§ 28-14-19.2 Private right of action to collect wages or benefits and for equitable relief.
(a) Any employee or former employee, or any organization representing such an employee or former employee aggrieved by the failure to pay wages and/or benefits or misclassification in violation of chapters 28-12 and/or 28-14 may file a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction to obtain relief. An aggrieved party shall be entitled to recover any unpaid wages and/or benefits, compensatory damages, and liquidated damages in an amount up to two (2) times the amount of unpaid wages and/or benefits owed, as well as an award of appropriate equitable relief, including reinstatement of employment, fringe benefits and seniority rights, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, and/or such other appropriate relief or penalties authorized under chapters 28-12 and/or 28-14. In determining the amount of any penalty imposed under this section, consideration shall be given to the size of the employer's business, the good faith of the employer, the gravity of the violation, the history of previous violations, and whether or not the violation was an innocent mistake or willful. Any unpaid fringe benefit contributions owed pursuant to this section in any form shall be paid to the appropriate benefit fund: however, in the absence of an appropriate fund, the benefit shall be paid directly to the aggrieved employee.
(b) An action instituted pursuant to this section may be brought by one or more employees or former employees individually and/or on behalf of other employees similarly situated.
(c) No agreement between the employee and employer to work for less than the applicable wage and/or benefit rate or to otherwise work under terms and/or conditions in violation of applicable law is a defense to an action brought pursuant to this section.
(d) An employer's responsibility and liability hereunder is solely to the employer's own employees.
(e) A civil action filed under this section may be instituted instead of, but not in addition to, the director of labor and training enforcement procedures authorized by the above referenced chapters, provided the civil action is filed prior to the date the director of labor and training issues notice of an administrative hearing.
(f) The filing of a civil action under this section shall not preclude the director of labor and training from investigating the matter and/or referring the matter to the attorney general, contractors ' registration board and/or the tax administrator.
(g) Any claim hereunder shall be forever barred unless commenced within three (3) years after the cause of action accrued.
(P.L. 2012, ch. 306, § 4; P.L. 2012, ch. 344, § 4.)