Monday, January 16, 2017

Maine DOL to Employers - Not So Fast with Wage Raise

PNN: Maine Minimum Wage

In November 2016, voters in Maine approved a raise to the state’s minimum wage. The new wage levels are set to go into effect January 7; however, the Maine Department of Labor (DOL) has announced they will delay the enforcement until January 31.

The DOL press release states:

“Many employers and employees are unaware of the relationship between the minimum wage in Maine and the minimum salary that an exempt worker must be paid, and many legislators have announced a bill to restore the tip credit,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “It is entirely appropriate for the Department of Labor to take time to help employers and workers understand and comply with the law without taking them to task.”

“Of course we expect employers to comply with the law,” explained Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “However, as we have seen with the federal overtime-exempt rule announced this year, employers did a lot of work to comply, and then the injunction put everything on hold, creating confusion for both workers and employers. We want to avoid a similar situation under state law.”

Despite the enforcement delay, the Maine DOL warns employers they may still be subject to private right of action by employees and advises they consult an attorney:

“Note, however, that as of the effective date, although the department may not bring enforcement actions, employers may be subject to a private right of action by an employee who believes she or he has been harmed by the employers’ actions; such lawsuits may result in the award of back wages, treble damages, attorney’s fees and court costs to an affected worker. Employers should consult an attorney to have a more complete understanding of the interplay between this non-enforcement position and employees’ private right of action.”

Read the Maine DOL press release for full details. Also, tell us what you think of Maine’s new wage levels in the comments section below.