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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is Rendell Violating the Federal Minimum Wage Act?

Here's a note from a state worker that asks us an interesting question: Is Rendell violating the federal Minimum Wage Act (which goes up again this week) by failing to pay state workers?

It sure would be interesting (and expensive) if employees start filing complaints!


Mr. Brouillette,

I have not yet seen any information regarding this anywhere from any news network, but am a loyal follower of the Commonwealth Foundation and wanted to share this with you. All I ask is that you keep my name out of the story as I am a state worker and work within an agency whose executives are close to the Governor.

Basically - the non-timely payment of hours worked by state employees could violate the federal Minimum Wage Act. This means that as of this Friday, July 24, 2009, which happens to be the next pay cycle for some state employees, their paychecks will show that they have worked 75 hours in the past two weeks but will receive $0, which if it is determined that this is a violation of the Federal Minimum Wage Act, the state could face a $1,000 fine for every employee who submits a substantiated claim. (At least that is how I interpreted the Minimum Wage Act wording which is found on the Federal Department of Labor's website.)

I have talked with a regional Federal Department of Labor representative and she had recommended that state employees who do not receive a pay check on the day that their pay is normally deposited, or receives a check which does not compensate them for the hours worked should call her office and file a complaint. All employees will need is their current pay statement, as well as some basic personal information to submit the complaint at which point the federal government will open an investigation against the employer, which in this case is the state of Pennsylvania. She did not say that it is a definite violation but she also did not say that it was not. She was supportive of our submitting the claim and having it investigated by their office.


Fortunately my wife and I were approved for loans to cover our missed pay but not all employees were approved for these loans and will have no income. I feel that the reporting of this potential violation may help to nudge the legislators and governor into coming to a solution a little quicker.

Best regards,



108Warren Commission said...

[...]Matt Brouillette posts an interesting question on their blog this morning[...]

Intriguing question!

Anonymous said...

Employees have already started to complain and the the cost can be very steep. It is a violation..to the extent that your number of hours worked x $7.25 needs to be equal. If the gross total is less or $0 it is a violation of FLSA provisions. The Secretary of Labor can intervene and can choose to seek injunctive relief which can include double the amount in damages or, if the violation is viewed as willful, triple the amount in damages. State governments are not exempt from the provisions of FLSA and the requirement of the State Constitution not to pay their bills/salaries does not mitigate the requirement of FLSA to pay employees at least minimum wage on payday for time worked.

This means tomorrow the DOL will be busy. Next week they will be very busy. On the 17th the gross pays exceeded the minimum wage threshold. This week and next they will not. DOL was already pretty busy fielding calls last week. If you couple potential damages from the Federal government with the potential to pay interest on the backpay should the Unions be awarded it in response to settlement of their grievance, I guess it would be good for the coffers to hold the Rainy Day fund at the ready.

We spoke to DOL before the fact and last week. It is a violation, the State is not exempt, and only the DOL can seek injunctive relief on your behalf if they choose to after taking the complaints and investigating if no other solution can be found.

Anonymous said...

How on earth does one file a complaint with the Federal Department of Labor? I've found a fillable form for the State Dept. of Labor at http://www.dlicts.state.pa.us/cts.aspx?c=wage. I've searched the Federal website and found no equivalent form; the only complaint process I've found is to call 1-866-4US-WAGE. Does anyone know of a paper document that can be submitted or a web form that can be submitted?

Nathan Benefield said...

I have only heard of the number. You should check the news story here