Fair Labor Section

Our Office’s Commitment to Fair Labor in PA

Hard-working Pennsylvanians deserve honest wages and fair treatment. Violating workers’ rights has an adverse effect on this dynamic community, particularly those most vulnerable and underpaid.

Attorney General Shapiro created the Office’s first-ever Fair Labor Section to fight for working people.

Here at The Office of Attorney General, we’ve defended workers against:

  • Wage theft (including failure to pay overtime)
  • “Tip Stealing”
  • Misclassification and Similar Unlawful Actions
  • Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace

This department engages in a variety of activities, including:

  • Civil and Criminal Investigations / Actions
  • Partnerships with Federal, State and Local Agencies
  • Outreach Activities to Build Relationships with Various Stakeholder Communities (Including Organized Labor)
  • Business Organizations and Workers’ Rights Groups
  • Policy Initiatives
    • Labor and Employment Issue Advocacy (Press Conferences, Social Media, Amicus Briefs, Op-Ed Pieces, Comments, Statements, etc.)

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Protecting Workers’ Tips

Attorney General Josh Shapiro led a coalition of 17 Attorneys General in opposing a Trump Administration plan to eliminate protections for tipped workers that would have allowed employers to steal their tips. One study suggested the proposed rule change would have allowed employers to take up to $5.8 billion of workers’ earned tips each year.

Attorney General Shapiro held press conferences at a Philadelphia diner where he stood in support of waitresses, waiters, bartenders and other service industry workers across the Commonwealth.

Workers won, thanks in large part to our efforts, when Congress adopted provisions protecting their tips in the omnibus budget bill (signed into law on March 23, 2018).

No Poach Agreements Limit Opportunities for Workers

Shapiro and several fellow Attorneys General sent letters to eight national fast food franchisors - raising concerns about their use of “no-poach” agreements in franchise contracts.

No poach agreements harm low-wage workers and limit their ability to get better jobs with hirer pay or more family-friendly hours. These arrangements are often contained in fast-food franchise contracts, preventing workers from switching between employers of the same franchise.

“The use of ‘no poach’ and ‘no hire’ agreements by national fast-food franchises unfairly exploits working women and men, especially low-wage workers,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Many employees only learn these agreements exist when they are denied the chance to advance to a better job, earn more money or obtain family-friendly schedule options. It’s wrong and I’m standing up and fighting for the rights of Pennsylvanians not to be exploited.” This investigation is continuing.

View the letter

The Limitations of the Janus Case and Support for Workers’ Rights

On January 22, 2018, a coalition of Attorneys General filed an Amicus Brief in the case of Mark Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 - urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold precedent protecting “fair share” provisions in public sector collective bargaining agreements.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court overruled prior precedent, creating confusion among Pennsylvania public sector workers and employers.

Responding to numerous questions generated by that decision, Attorney General Shapiro issued guidance, clarifying that the ruling makes narrow changes to rights of employees and the obligations of employers. (August 6, 2018)

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PAID Program Allows for Exploitation of Workers’ Wage

Attorney General Shapiro stood up for the right of workers to be paid fair wages by opposing the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2018 Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) Program.

His letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta emphasized that employers shouldn’t get a free pass in paying back overdue wages to their employees. The PAID Program would have allowed them to do so without facing any penalties for violating federal and state labor laws. Attorney General Shapiro explains that “this program will allow employers to essentially take interest-free loans out of their employees’ paychecks – including workers who rely on their wages to pay for rent, groceries and other essential items.”

The letter to Secretary Acosta makes clear that the PAID Program raises a number of legal issues that need to be addressed, prior to permanent implementation of the Program. Litigation is ongoing.

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Other Notable Work

Continuing Efforts on Behalf of Pennsylvania Workers

Attorney General Shapiro Listens to the Pension Concerns of Retired Miners

October 2017

Attorney General Shapiro traveled to South Union Township for a listening session with retired workers of the United Mine Workers of America. Upon hearing about their pension concerns, General Shapiro laid out support for Congressional efforts protective of retirement funds.

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Fair Labor Section and Temple University Beasley School of Law Social Justice Lawyering Clinic Collaborate in Clinical Program

January 2018

OAG’s Fair Labor Section collaborated with the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic during the fall semester to combat non-compete agreements for low-wage workers.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Files Amicus Brief in New Prime v. Oliveira

July 2018

A coalition of 16 state Attorneys General urged the Supreme Court to help truck drivers who were misclassified as independent contractors. Rather than being compelled to arbitrate their claims, this effort focused on allowing them to challenge pay issues in court.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Files Amicus Brief in Velox Express, Inc. and Jeannie Edge

April 2018

Leading a coalition of 12 state Attorneys General, Shapiro filed an Amicus Brief against a company that that violated the National Labor Relations Act.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Files Amicus Brief in Chamber of Commerce v. City of Seattle

December 2017

State Attorney General filed an Amicus Brief supporting the right of platform economy drivers to collectively bargain.

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Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to email the Fair Labor Section at wagetheft@attorneygeneral.gov or to file a complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/.