New, Bigger Labor Dept. Fines To Kick In

New and larger Labor Department fines will kick in on August 1 for everything from mine safety fraud to job safety violations.

The fines, mandated by a 2015 law, raise civil penalties for law-breaking by up to 150 percent, said Obama Administration Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. Some of fines, such as for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, had not risen in decades.

“Civil penalties should be a credible deterrent that influences behavior far and wide. Adjusting our penalties to keep pace with the cost of living can lead to significant benefits for workers and can level the playing field responsible employers who should not have to compete with those who don’t follow the law,” Perez said.  

The new law imposes the higher fines for law-breaking, retroactive to last November.  Agencies will publish “’catch up rules’ this summer to make up for lost time since the last adjustments,” DOL said. Prominent new fines include:

• OSHA’s maximum fines, last raised in 1990, will jump by 78 percent. The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum for willful or repeated violations goes from $70,000 to $124,709. Mine Safety and Health Act fines will also increase.

• Fines for violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase from $1,100 to $1,894 each.

• All the fines under the Longshore Workers’ Compensation Act more than double, as do several of the fines under the Black Lung Benefits Act.