Beginning in August, employers should be aware that penalties associated with several employment-related regulatory agencies under the Department of Labor (DOL) increased substantially.

The increases were mandated with the 2015 passage of The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, which is designed to update penalties many of which had not changed in more than 25 years. The purpose of the increase is to deter violations and to strengthen enforcement. The penalties are scheduled to increase annually to reflect inflation.

The penalty increases affect:

  • Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) – which affects ERISA
  • Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
  • Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA)
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
  • Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OCWP)

Also take note: this follows on the heels of the EEOC announcement that violations of posting requirements increased by 150% in July. Notices include those under Title VII, the ADA, and GINA.

For reference, see the DOL Chart of of Penalties for all agencies, a 14 page listing of new fines and penalties under the Inflation Adjustment Act.

The DOL Labor Blog talks about how the Inflation Adjustment Act was intended to strengthen the deterrent effect of penalties in The Benefits of Penalties.

“Adjusting our penalties can lead to significant benefits for workers and responsible employers who will have a more level playing field when competing with those who try to gain a competitive advantage by cutting corners on safety and other basic protections for American workers. As always, we at the Labor Department define success as encouraging employers to comply with the law, not by the amount of penalties we assess, so we stand ready to continue to provide technical assistance to all employers who want to do the right thing.”

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