Maine Dept. of Labor Announces Recovery of Nearly $500,000 in Owed Back Wages for Maine Workers in 2021 Bookmark and Share

January 25, 2022

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2022

Maine Dept. of Labor Announces Recovery of Nearly $500,000 in Owed Back Wages for Maine Workers in 2021

Department highlights 2021 wage & hour enforcement activities as part of new website

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) announced today that it recovered nearly half a million dollars in owed back wages for Maine workers in 2021.

The Department published the information publicly for the first-time on a new website outlining final actions taken against employers who were assessed penalties by the Department's Wage and Hour Division in 2021.

In total in 2021, through both settlement agreements and other enforcement actions, MDOL recovered $474,971.15 in owed back wages for workers, including more than $60,000 from an employer in South Paris who cooperated with the Department to make back payments to fourteen workers whose tips were withheld illegally.

Investigators with MDOLs Bureau of Labor Standards (BLS) Wage and Hour Division found that Luchador Tacos in South Paris had violated several sections of Maine employment law involving misallocation of tips, timely and full payment of wages, and failure to properly maintain time records which resulted in hundreds of violations. When cited for these violations in August 2021, the company fully cooperated with BLS to ensure that the full amount of wages owed to the workers, plus liquidated damages, were paid quickly.

"Most Maine employers understand and comply fully with their obligations under employment law. When they do not, the Department does its best to bring them voluntarily into compliance," Scott Cotnoir, Director of MDOLs Wage and Hour Division, said. "Occasionally, stronger measures are necessary. Bringing non-compliant employers into compliance ensures that everyone is playing by the same rules: workers are paid what they are owed, and law-abiding employers can compete on a level playing field."

MDOLs Wage and Hour Division has increasingly used settlement agreements as a means to increase compliance with employment law. Agreements typically require the employer to take measures to ensure future compliance, such as training its management on employment law and demonstrating to the Department that it remains in full compliance with those laws. In certain cases where violations have been found and the employer is cooperative, the Bureau may agree to suspend a portion of the penalties assessed if the employer fully complies with the requirements of their specific agreement. Under no circumstances will the responsibility to pay earned wages be waived. Breaching the agreement could result in significantly increased penalties.

These agreements usually remain in effect for two or three years, during which full penalties may be enforced in the event of a breach of the agreement.

Four such agreements with employers were created in 2020. In 2021, BLS entered into ten settlement agreements resulting in the recovery of back pay and liquidated damages totaling $100,009.72 for 155 workers, and $16,982.50 in civil money penalties paid by their employers. Non-settlement agreement final enforcement actions taken by the Bureau in 2021 against twenty-four additional employers resulted in civil money penalty assessments of $120,162.50.

The new site published by the Department provides information on the number of violations, the amount of wages owed, and the extent to which the employer has paid the back wages owed. Of the 29 citations issued with civil money penalties, nine of the employers have yet to pay the appropriate wages to their workers. Information can be found at: .

About the Bureau of Labor Standards: The Bureau of Labor Standards Wage and Hour Division conducts routine random inspections of employment records and also frequently responds to complaints filed by employees who believe their rights have been violated. If after investigating BLS finds that violations have occurred, its priority is to secure any back wages that employees are entitled to and in some cases include monetary damages in addition to those wages. Its other priorities include protecting minor employees in the workplace, as well as providing outreach and education.

During its last session, Maines Legislature authorized adding three new inspectors to the BLS Wage and Hour Division as well as an additional Assistant Attorney General to support its enhanced efforts to enforce employment laws. The Bureaus Outreach and Education Division offers information and training to workers and employers who wish to learn more about those laws. Contact Christina Starr, Outreach and Education Coordinator, at for more information.

Anyone who has questions about labor laws, or thinks their rights have been violated, should contact MDOLs Bureau of Labor Standards at (207) 623-7900 or .

Workers can contact the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions and to file a complaint. Worker protections apply to everyone regardless of immigration status, and all workers have the same right to a safe workplace and fair pay. No- cost translation services are available.