By Michell K. McIntyre, NCL's Special Project on Wage Theft
Thanks to some state legislatures, the start of the New Year means new rules for some workers. Eight states helped their workers with an increase in their state minimum hourly wage. Washington continues to lead the nation with the highest state minimum wage and is the only state with a minimum wage higher than $9. As of January 1, 2012, its minimum wage is $9.04 per hour. Seven other states also increased their minimum wages at the first of the year: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont.
New Hourly Minimum Wage
- requires employers to provide workers, at the time they’re hired, a written disclosure of their basic terms of employment (the pay rate, the pay day, and the name and address of the legal employer)
- strengthens misdemeanor criminal penalties for employers who willfully fail to pay wages due in 90 days after final judgment
- allows a worker to recover attorney’s fees to enforce a court judgment for unpaid wages.
- making it unlawful for any persons or employer to engage in willful employee misclassification (classifying an employee as an ‘independent contractor’ rather than an ‘employee’)
- making it unlawful to charge any fees or make any deductions in a worker’s paycheck for expenses (space rental, services, repairs, good or materials, etc.) where such deductions would have been unlawful had the worker been classified as an employee
- increasing penalties that can be assessed against any employer for willful employee misclassification
- requiring employers who have been found to have committed employee misclassification to display a notice to its employees and the general public on their Web site and/or each location where it occurred.