In addition to all of the activity surrounding the new overtime rules that go into effect on December 1, 2016 , the DOL recently announced, effective August 1, 2016, it is increasing the civil penalties for willful violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA) and for serious violations under OSHA.
A willful violation under the FLSA is when the employer knew that its conduct was prohibited or it showed “reckless disregard” for the requirements of the law. “Willful” is interpreted broadly and an employer’s failure to keep records of hours worked by employees could be interpreted as a “willful” violation. Because a successful plaintiff under the FLSA is generally entitled to liquidated damages in the amount of double the wages owed, the practical effect of the additional year to the statute of limitations for willful conduct is another year of pay, doubled.
OSHA penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709. The penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA will increase from $1,100 to $1,894.
The increased rates will be applicable to civil penalties assessed after August 1, 2016 whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 12, 2015.