Minimum wage in Connecticut just got real. Employers in Connecticut will be paying double damages PLUS court costs and attorney’s fees for wage and hour violations as of October 1st, 2015. In a recent article, Littler Mendelson attorneys published the following explanation:
“On June 23, 2015, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a new statute that imposes double damages on employers who fail to pay an employee minimum wage or overtime. With one exception, the new law requires a court to award double damages plus court costs and attorney’s fees if it finds that an employer has (1) failed to pay an employee’s wages, accrued fringe benefits, or arbitration award or (2) failed to meet the law’s requirements for an employee’s minimum wage or overtime rates.
“An Act Concerning an Employer’s Failure to Pay Wages” (Public Act 15-86) will take effect on October 1, 2015. It applies to private and public employers of any size, including the state and municipalities. Notably, the legislation overrules well-established Connecticut Supreme Court precedent that awards for double damages and attorney’s fees are inappropriate without a trial court’s finding of bad faith, arbitrariness or unreasonableness.1
Public Act 15-86 provides that if an employee is paid less than the minimum wage or overtime wages to which he or she is entitled, the employee may recover in a successful civil action twice the full amount of the minimum wage or overtime wages less any sum paid by the employer, plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. The court will determine costs and attorney’s fees. If the employer can establish it had a good faith belief that the wages paid were in compliance with the law, the employee may recover the full amount of the correct wages less any amount paid by the employer, with costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Note that the Act does not define what will satisfy the “good faith” standard, although it is reasonable to expect that courts will likely follow the “good faith” exception that applies to FLSA claims. An agreement between an employee and an employer to work for less than the minimum wage or overtime wages is no defense to an action under the new legislation.”
Tips for Employers
- Review all policies and procedures surrounding payroll
- Establish Reasonable Basis for all of your policy and procedure decisions
- Audit your internal employee classification procedures for accuracy
- Review Job descriptions to verify compliance with FLSA classification of exempt workers
- Make necessary corrections and document your action
- Train or Retrain all applicable personnel on proper time and attendance procedures
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Address issues with employees as they arise
If you do all of these thing, you may be able to defend your accidental infractions.
Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!