Penalties for employment law violations just increased … again

DOL penalties, FLSA violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), for the second time in just six months, are raising the penalties for employment law violations. 
In November of 2015, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act was passed. It directs federal agencies to adjust their civil monetary penalties for inflation every year.
Well, the DOL and OSHA, after updating their fines for 2016 this past summer, have done it again.
Both agencies just published civil penalty increases for 2017.
Some of the more important increases include:

  • The DOL’s penalty for willful or repeated violations of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime rules will jump from $1,894 to $1,925 — that’s after a jump from $1,100 this past summer.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) penalty for violating the law’s posting requirements will increase from $163 to $166 for each separate offense — that’s after a jump from $110 this past summer.
  • OSHA’s top penalty for serious violations is climbing from $12,471 to $12,675 (previously, it was $7,000), and its top penalty for willful or repeated violations is rising from $124,709 to 126,749 (previously, it was $70,000).
  • The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) penalty for not providing a summary of benefits and coverage to affected individuals will increase from $1,087 to $1,105.
  • The ERISA penalty for failing to provide notices to retirement plan participants informing them of automatic contribution arrangements will increase from $1,632 to $1,659.
  • The penalty for failing to inform employees of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) opportunities will increase from $110 to $112.

In general, the new civil penalties amounts are applicable to violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015 and for which a civil monetary penalty was assessed after Jan. 13, 2017.