Local Minimum Wage Ordinances FAQ
Note: Employees or employers with local minimum wage questions from should refer to the local ordinance or connect with their lawyer or attorney for situation-specific questions.
Maine Municipalities with Local Minimum Wage Ordinances:
What would be potential violations of a local minimum wage ordinance (LMWO)?
Violations of minimum wage laws or ordinances may include standard minimum wage violations, incorrect deductions, paying “under the table,” and final or missed payroll.
To which jurisdiction does enforcement fall?
- In worker’s rights cases, such as wage and hour or workplace safety complaints, the jurisdiction almost always falls to the authority that offers the most protection for the worker; in the case of wages, it falls to the jurisdiction with the highest minimum wage that can be enforced. The State enforces the minimum wage in State statute. If a municipality were to increase their minimum wage, cases that fall within a municipality’s jurisdiction fall to that public entity to enforce. The regulations that provide the greatest protections prevail in an enforcement action.
- Employees who work in the local areas who contact the State to file a complaint about their employer will be referred by the State to the local enforcement agency when the complaint involves a local ordinance.
How does a change in a local minimum wage affect overtime calculations?
We suggest that employers refer to the United State Department of Labor website, which includes an Overtime Advisor calculating tool: http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/whd/flsa/otcalc/i2p2.asp.
For service employees where the employer takes the tip credit, overtime is calculated on the full minimum wage, not the lower direct (or cash) wage payment. The employer may not take a larger tip credit for an overtime hour than for a straight time hour.
Maine employers with questions about calculating overtime may call the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900.
What does a private right of action mean?
Instituting a “private right of action” clause to address the enforcement of a municipal ordinance means that a worker who believes that he or she has been underpaid could take their own court action, but more commonly would seek legal counsel and sue the employer for the lost wages. Typically, such lawsuits allow, when the decision is for the employee, the inclusion of back wages, attorney fees, court costs, and equal amounts of liquidated damages. Employers found in court to be not liable will have to pay for their own legal representation.
What are the other regulatory requirements?
Employers are still liable for all record keeping and poster requirements under federal, state, and municipal regulations. Typically, three sets of minimum wage posters will need to be posted and updated accordingly. In addition, employers must ensure that their record keeping meets the highest standards among the three enforcement entities.
Does the location of where the work is performed play any role in determining which is the minimum wage -- local or state?
Under most municipal ordinances, employers have the responsibility to ensure that the highest wage is paid based on the location of where the work was performed. For example, in the case where an employee who works within a city for one day but outside the city on other days, an employer may be required to break down the rates of pay per jurisdictional requirements.
An employer's place of business would include the employer's home if the business is operated out of a house or if an individual or family has domestic employees, such as a nanny, regular babysitter or caregiver, or housekeeper.
What if the municipal ordinance doesn't say anything about where the employer is located?
Typically, if an employer's headquarters/office is in the municipality with a higher minimum wage, those workers would be subject to the local minimum, but workers for the same company who work outside that town/city would be subject to the state minimum wage for the performance of the same work.
What wage and hour laws will the State still enforce?
Workers may be confused about which jurisdiction enforces other wage and hour laws. The state retains jurisdiction over most other wage and hour regulations to include leave, breaks, overtime, severance pay, vacation pay, prevailing wages and child labor. The U.S. Department of Labor may also have jurisdiction. The State and USDOL commonly refer cases to one another when enforcement falls outside their jurisdiction or the other jurisdiction is more protective for the worker; this relationship will continue.