Quick Guide: AGs Clock In On Wages

State AGs’ authority is by no means limited to their more traditional jurisdictions – consumer protection, privacy, and antitrust – as several recent actions by state AGs in the labor and employment arena clearly demonstrate. In the penultimate episode of season 3, Chris Allen and Keturah Taylor consider recent efforts by Democratic AGs to help protect workers’ access to overtime pay and an enforcement action in DC related to a company’s misclassification of its workforce.

(00:38): Chris Allen introduces himself and Cozen O’Connor associate Keturah Taylor and notes that In the past several episodes, the podcast has focused on state AGs’ more traditional jurisdictions, but that this episode explores the also quite active role of state AGs in relation to labor and employment matters.

(01:13): Keturah describes the first headline pulled from this week’s news, in which a multistate coalition of 14 Democratic attorneys general has written to the US Department of Labor in support of updating rules governing overtime pay exemptions for employees classed as executive, administrative, or professional.

(03:00): Chris highlights that the AGs themselves have identified employee misclassification as their principal motivation for intervening, and introduces the second story of the week which shows direct “state” action on a labor matter.

(03:23): Keturah outlines this case in which DC Attorney General Schwalb has settled with a “beltway business” that he alleged had violated wage and hour laws by classifying its entire workforce as independent contractors rather than as employees.

(04:05): Chris observes that AG Schwalb has publicly expressed a desire to enforce against such violations.

(04:45): Keturah agrees that the number of recent settlements coming out of Schwalb’s office relating to wage and hour issues show that it is an enforcement priority and an area where he doesn’t seem to be sparing any particular industry.

(05:18): Chris concurs that, in addition to misclassification, AG Schwalb and other AGs have taken action on things like tip theft, failure to pay sick leave, and failure to pay minimum wage, as well as broader workplace discrimination and hostile work environments. He notes recent scrutiny in the professional sports world, and references no-poach agreements as an area that exemplifies AGs’ creativity and reach in employment enforcement.

(07:01): Keturah provides further examples of AGs’ labor interventions, particularly as they relate to vulnerable communities such as lower-wage or temporary workers.

(08:29): Chris agrees that AGs on both sides of the aisle have demonstrated an appreciation for the challenges of making a living wage, alone and in coordination with their state agencies. Keturah concurs that AGs are likely to continue to be active in the labor space, including weighing in on federal regulations and rulemaking.

To listen to the full podcast, click here. To listen to a particular section, open the recording and use the time stamps provided above to navigate to the desired part.

To read more about the news stories on which this podcast is based, click here or here.