Are you taking unnecessary risks with mandatory workplace postings? If you’re downplaying the importance of labor law posting compliance – or ignoring the requirements altogether – you could face significant financial and legal complications. Not only have the penalties for violating labor laws increased for 2020, but the threat of litigation is ever-present if you cut corners.
Higher Labor Law Posting Fines in 2020
Keeping current with workplace postings is imperative to avoid federal government labor law fines. The amounts are steep — and they can add up quickly if you have violations at multiple locations.
On January 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule adjusting the penalties for postings violations for 2020. Depending on the postings, the increased fines* are as follows:
- OSHA posting fine — $13,494
- FMLA posting fine — $176
- EPPA posting fine — $21,410
*Although the EEO is the Law penalty is currently $559, it’s expected to increase in April 2020.
At the federal level, combined fines for the six mandatory postings (five include businesses with fewer than 50 employees) could add up to more than $35,000 per location. Additionally, state and local government posting fines are typically between $100 and $1,000 per violation. (Each posting carries its own fines because every agency and posting law is different.)
Perhaps, like many employers, you hear about these fines and think: “There are no poster police out there … so how would I even get caught?” While it’s true the federal government rarely sends out representatives JUST to enforce posting laws, you’re not off the hook with potential fines. Federal-level labor law posting fines typically are assessed because any agency is on your premises for another reason. It could be a Form I-9 audit, an OSHA inspection, an EEOC investigation or even a DOL follow-up to an employee complaint. The complaint or investigation could be completely unrelated to labor law posters, but the agencies will check posting compliance as part of an onsite visit.
Labor Law Violations Can Lead to More Than Fines
Federal government labor law fines are just the beginning. Missing or outdated postings can significantly increase your exposure in employment litigation in two ways:
- Statute of limitations — The statute of limitations is a big advantage for employers because it allows you to dismiss a claim that was filed too late. For example, the statute of limitations for a federal discrimination claim is 300 days. For an FLSA overtime case, it’s two years. So, typically, if your business gets a claim from a former or existing employee outside of the established time period, you can move to have it dismissed.
But problems can occur if there’s a posting violation. If you have an outdated poster — or no poster at all — the courts may decide that the statute of limitations doesn’t apply because you didn’t notify employees about their legal rights and responsibilities in the first place. You can’t use it as a defense, and the case may move forward against you.
- “Bad faith” — Another way posting compliance comes into play is as evidence of “bad faith.” This term refers to an intentional, dishonest act by not fulfilling legal obligations. A finding of bad faith can directly affect your damages in an employee lawsuit — either by inflating a damage award against you or standing in the way of a good-faith defense that would otherwise reduce or eliminate your damages.
In federal discrimination or harassment lawsuits, this may come into play as punitive damages, issued in addition to damages for back and front pay, emotional distress and legal fees. They are typically the largest portion of a plaintiff’s total settlement. Without good faith, employers may also have to pay “liquidated damages” in suits involving laws such as the FLSA and the Equal Pay Act (EPA). This essentially means damages are doubled.
Noncompliance is Never Worth the Risk
Clearly, it’s more important than ever to meet labor law posting requirements. Given the magnitude of government fines and possible legal exposure, it’s not worth the risk to ignore or cut corners with the requirements.
Poster Guard® Compliance Protection gets your business up to date with all mandatory labor law postings — and keeps it that way for an entire year. We guarantee our posters are 100% compliant with all federal, state, county and city regulations; if you’re ever found out of compliance, we pay the fines. It’s a level of coverage that protects your business and extends valuable peace of mind.