Workplace laws in the State of Connecticut are governed by the Department of Labor. One of the many tools that the Department of Labor utilizes to enforce these rules is investigations of some cases on their own, or when a complaint has been made. If an investigation finds that an employer has violated workplace rules or regulations regarding wage and hour or worker’s compensation laws, the Department of Labor may issue a multitude of fines or issue a “Stop Work Order,” ceasing the business operations of the employer. The power of these Stop Work Orders is outlined under Connecticut General Statute Section 31-76a.
If the Department of Labor receives a complaint for nonpayment of wages or a violation of the provisions of subsection (g) of section 31-288 (workers compensation), the Labor Commissioner shall have power to enter, during usual business hours, the place of business or employment of any employer to determine compliance with wage and hour or worker’s compensation laws and for such purpose may examine payroll and other records and interview employees, call hearings, administer oaths, take testimony under oath and take depositions.
The Commissioner is provided significant power in terms of their investigation into the wage and hour or worker’s compensation violations. The Commissioner or the Director, for such purpose, may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and records. A failure to fully cooperate with this investigation can subject the employer to vast monetary fines. If an employer or any officer or agent of any employer, corporation, firm or partnership willfully fails to furnish time and wage records as required by law to the Commissioner, the Director of minimum wage or any wage enforcement agent upon request, or who refuses to admit the Commissioner, the Director or such agent to the place of employment of such employer, corporation, firm or partnership, or who hinders or delays the Commissioner, the Director or such agent in the performance of the Commissioner’s, the Director’s or such agent’s duties in their enforcement, the employer shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars. Each day of such failure is considered a separate offense, and each day of refusal to admit, of hindering or of delaying the Commissioner, the Director or such agent shall constitute a separate offense.
Along with monetary sanctions, the Department of Labor has the ability to issue Stop Work Orders. Under Connecticut General Statute Section 31-76a, if the Commissioner determines, after their investigation, that an employer is in violation of certain Worker’s Compensation laws, the Commissioner shall issue, not later than seventy-two hours after making such determination, a Stop Work Order against the employer requiring the cessation of all business operations of the employer. Such Stop Work Order shall be issued only against the employer found to be in violation of subsection (g) of section 31-288 (Worker’s Compensation law) and only as to the specific place of business or employment for which the violation exists. A stop work order may be served at a place of business or employment by posting a copy of the Stop Work Order in a conspicuous location at the place of business of the employer. The Stop Work Order remains in effect until the Commissioner issues an order releasing the Stop Work Order upon a finding by the commissioner that the employer has come into compliance.
If an employer is served with a Stop Work Order, the employer has the ability to request a hearing before the labor commissioner. In order to make such request, the request must be in writing no more than ten (10) days after the issuance of the Stop Work Order.
If you are an employer being investigated by the Department of Labor or are subject to fines and/or a Stop Work Order, please call the experienced employment counsel at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. today at 203-878-0661 for a free consultation.