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Labor & Industry Helps Return $3.5 million to Workers Wronged by Employers in 2021

12/30/2021

Harrisburg, PA – In 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) investigated more than 4,000 complaints of alleged labor law violations and returned more than $3.5 million in earned wages to Pennsylvania workers whose employers violated a labor law, according to data released today by L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier.

"Pennsylvania workers are entitled to every dollar they earn, and that's why the department's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance works so hard to hold employers accountable when they wrongfully withhold wages or violate any of Pennsylvania's labor laws," Berrier said. "Though its work is mostly behind the scenes, the team that enforces Pennsylvania's 13 labor and employment laws has a profound and meaningful impact on every worker in the commonwealth because fair, consistent enforcement incentivizes all employers to be diligent about following our laws."

Most of the complaints investigated in 2021 and in recent years were relevant to the Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL), the Minimum Wage Act (MWA), the Prevailing Wage Act, (PWA), the Child Labor Act (CLA) and the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act (CWMA).

  • Under the WPCL, the bureau investigates complaints filed by persons alleging nonpayment of wages, final paychecks or fringe benefits. In 2021, the bureau collected more than $2 million from about 900 employers in violation of the law and returned those dollars to workers. 
  • Under the MWA, the bureau investigates complaints alleging employers failed to pay minimum wage and/or overtime. In 2021, the bureau collected $566,000 from 60 employers in violation of the law and returned those dollars to workers.
  • Under the PWA, the bureau enforces requirements for prevailing wage rates on publicly funded construction projects. In 2021, the bureau determined more than 8,500 prevailing rate violations and returned more than $1 million to workers who were not paid the proper prevailing wages on projects across the commonwealth. 
  • Under the CLA, the bureau investigates allegations of minor employees engaged in prohibited occupations, working excessive hours, not receiving mandated break times, or working in dangerous conditions. In 2021, the bureau issued fines to more than 100 entities and collected $3.1 million in child labor fines that were deposited into the general fund.  
  • Under the CWMA, the bureau investigates allegations of construction-industry employers misclassifying employees as independent contractors. In 2021, the bureau issued penalties to more than 50 construction-industry employers and collected $340,000 in fines. These funds are deposited into the commonwealth's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

Since 2015, the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance has collected $38 million in unlawfully withheld wages from more than 7,500 employers in violation of wage laws and returned those dollars to the workers who earned them. During the same period, the bureau has collected $2.72 million in fines from more than 900 contractors in violation of the CWMA and has collected $3.6 million in fines from 330 different entities in violation of the Child Labor Act.

In addition to the laws mentioned above, the bureau enforces the Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act, the Equal Pay Law, the Inspection of Employment Records Law, the Industrial Homework Law, the Seasonal Farm Labor Law, the Medical Fee Act, the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act and regulations on apprenticeship and training.

The Bureau of Labor Law Compliance includes 24 investigators, four supervisors and six central office staff who work in district offices located in Altoona, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Peterson, dlipress@pa.gov

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