Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

October 18, 2010

IWPCA Amendments, Part 3

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

Employers face increased penalties for not paying proper wages. An employe who recovers unpaid wages in either the Illinois Department of Labor, or in the Circuit Courts, can recover the underpayments, any consequential damages, and a 2% (of the underpayments) per month penalty for each month since the underpayment. If the action is brought in the courts the employee can recover costs and reasonable attorneys fees.

Not helpful to already underpaid employees, but providing a real incentive to employers to comply with the law is the increased criminal liability that may attach to underpayment of wages. In addition to other remedies a willful violation could result in criminal conviction of a Class B misdemeanor for underpayments of $5,00 or less or a Class A misdemeanor for underpayments of more than $5,000. And repeated violations can result in a felony conviction.

The employee’s chances of success have been increased by yet another change to the IWPCA. Employees who complain to their employers, the IDOL, at public hearings, or even to community organizations, about wage issues, as well as employees who bring actions or testify in investigations or trials, may recover all appropriate legal or equitable remedies. If the action to recover for retaliation is brought in the courts, the employee may recover attorney’s fees as well.

And as a final incentive, the changes to the IWPCA appear to make it clearer that officers of the company who knowingly allow wage underpayments may be considered employers. In other words they can be held individually liable for the wage underpayments.

Lawyers and other interested parties should, of course, review the statute itself.

The rest of you should keep these issues in mind. The days of employers thinking that a claim for underpayment of wages is but a cost of doing business should be over. The increased criminal penalties, the personalization of liability, and the chances of class actions should help employers understand that the law must be followed.

As always, mult-part posts will be put together into a larger article and posted at the Watson & Linder website. I’ll get to that in the near future. Feel free to visit.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

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