According to a recent study, uneven enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act — lax in some places and more stringent in others — leaves employers confused about the extent of their liability for wage and hour violations.
The study, released by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, calls for more enforcement consistency to help ease employer uncertainty and strengthen worker protections.
There has been a substantial amount of analysis of federal wage and hour enforcement trends, but much less about how state agencies are deploying their resources, according to the author of the report, Irene Lurie, a senior fellow with the Rockefeller Institute.
“Many states have authority to protect low-wage workers that is equal to, and in some states greater than, federal authority. … Almost half the state agencies have more administrative authority to recover unpaid wages than the WHD, using procedures that could serve as models for the federal agency,” Lurie wrote in “Enforcement of State Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws: Resources, Procedures and Outcomes,” which was first published in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (Vol. 15, Number 2; 2011).
Despite having more potential enforcement authority, Lurie concluded that most states were passive enforcers of their own wage and hour laws and that their efforts differed greatly from state-to-state, creating an uneven patchwork of enforcement.
For more information about wage and hour issues, and for a more in depth discussion of this report, see Thompson Publishing’s Fair Labor Standards Handbook.