Labor Project Updates
Supreme Court Amicus Brief Cites to National State Attorneys General Program Study and Resources (Sept. 29, 2015)
Eight attorneys general submitted an amicus brief drafted by the Illinois Office of Attorney General to the United States Supreme Court in Tyson Foods Inc. v Bouaphakeo, et. al., Docket No. 14-1146, that seeks to support the ability of state government to "ensure effective and robust wage-and-hour law enforcement for their residents." The brief relied heavily on original research conducted in 2010-2011 by Jacob Meyer, '09, and Rob Greenleaf of the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School. The study, entitled Enforcement of State Wage and Hour Laws: A Survey of State Regulators, was the first of its breadth and depth to be conducted on a national scale, and includes an objective analysis of wage and hour enforcement on the state level, measuring the methods and extent of enforcement, and the ability of states to track and share data on wage and hour enforcement.
The amicus brief also cited an article written by Peter Romer-Friedman, '06 entitled, Eliot Spitzer Meets Mother Jones, How State Attorneys General Can Enforce State Wage and Hour Laws, 39 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 495. Written during a time of scant wage and hour enforcement, the “[n]ote offers a blueprint for how state attorneys general and other state reformers can protect the rights of the most exploited and vulnerable workers.”
The amicus brief may be found HERE
Enforcement of State Wage and Hour Laws: A Survey of State Regulators report and executive summary can be found HERE
The Romer-Friedman article may be found HERE
Agreement between USDOL and Oregon Bureau of Labor Provides Education, Enforcement to Protect Workers from Misclassification (April 4, 2016)
The division and bureau signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding intended to protect employees’ rights by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other non-employee statuses. The two agencies will provide clear, accurate and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees, and other stakeholders; share resources and enhance enforcement by conducting coordinated investigations and sharing information consistent with applicable law.
New York Acts to Mandate $15 an Hour Wage in Fast Food (July 22, 2015)
A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended that the minimum wage be raised for employees of fast-food chain restaurants throughout the state to $15 an hour. Wages would first be raised in New York City and then the rest of the state. The decision comes on the heels of similar increases in minimum wages in other cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
United States Department of Labor, State Labor Regulators and Other Stakeholders Meet at Columbia Law School to Discuss Best Practices and Information Sharing to Prevent Unlawful Labor Practices (Sept. 29, 2011)
On August 17-18, the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School convened an informal meeting of state and federal regulators, academics and advocates to discuss improving law enforcement at both the state and federal levels regarding payroll fraud and misclassification.
The key goal of the meeting was to enhance cooperation between the federal government, states, worker advocates, and employers. The meeting was convened a month prior to the United States Department of Labor’s signing of memorandums of understanding with the IRS and with a number of state regulators to provide for information-sharing with the goal of leveling the playing field between employers who follow the law and those who do not.
Discussion at the meeting at Columbia Law School centered on enforcement of wage and hour laws and laws against misclassification/payroll fraud in the face of new employment models that challenge these laws. Unlawful misclassification is the practice of classifying “employees” as “independent contractors” to avoid making workers compensation, unemployment, tax and other lawfully-required payments, even though the workers are not truly “independent” and fit the traditional definition of “employee.” Payroll fraud includes the practice of paying wages “off-the-books” and can take a number of forms.
Read more about the meeting and access meeting resources
National State Attorneys General Program Director Opposes Bill to Eliminate Protection of Maine Labor Law for Poultry Employees (April 15, 2011)
AG Program Director and former Attorney General of Maine James Tierney, has submitted testimony to the Maine Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, opposing a bill that would eliminate the requirement that minimum wage and overtime be paid to workers at farms that have over 300,000 egg-laying hens. As state representative, Tierney had sponsored the amendment in 1975 in response to poor working conditions at the a Decoster Egg Farms processing plant, and DeCoster is currently the only Maine employer to which it applies. In opposing repeal of the amendment, Tierney's testimony noted that the 1975 amendment passed with unanimous support from the state's Labor Committee and both chambers of the Legislature and that Decoster has since been cited and fined for numerous labor, animal cruelty, civil rights and health and safety violations.
Inconsistent Enforcement of State Wage and Hour Laws Could Lead to “Regulatory Race to the Bottom” New Study Finds (April 5, 2011)
The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School has issued a report on state wage and hour law enforcement, analyzing survey responses from 37 states and the District of Columbia. The study, based on data available in the fall of 2010, is the first of its breadth and depth to be conducted on a national scale, and includes an objective analysis of wage and hour enforcement on the state level, measuring the methods and extent of enforcement, and the ability of states to track and share data on wage and hour enforcement. It is based on data available in the fall of 2010.
The full report can be found here: