Labor and Labor Relations

Payment of Wages

SECTION 28-14-19

§ 28-14-19. Enforcement powers and duties of director of labor and training.

(a) It shall be the duty of the director to insure compliance with the provisions of this chapter 28-14 and 28-12. The director or his or her designee may investigate any violations thereof, institute or cause to be instituted actions for the collection of wages and institute action for penalties or other relief as provided for within and pursuant to those chapters. The director or his or her authorized representatives are empowered to hold hearings and he or she shall cooperate with any employee in the enforcement of a claim against his or her employer in any case whenever, in his or her opinion, the claim is just and valid.

(b) Upon receipt of a complaint or conducting an inspection under applicable law, the director or his or her appropriate departmental designee is authorized to investigate to determine compliance with the chapters 28-12 and/or 28-14.

(c) With respect to all complaints deemed just and valid, the director or his or her designee shall order a hearing thereon at a time and place to be specified, and shall give notice thereof, together with a copy of the complaint or the purpose thereof, or a statement of the facts disclosed upon investigation, which notice shall be served personally or by mail on any person, business, corporation, or entity of any kind affected thereby. The hearing shall be scheduled within thirty (30) days of service of a formal complaint as provided herein. The person, business, corporation, or entity shall have an opportunity to be heard in respect to the matters complained of at the time and place specified in the notice. The hearing shall be conducted by the director or his or her designee. The hearing officer in the hearing shall be deemed to be acting in a judicial capacity, and shall have the right to issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and examine witnesses. The enforcement of a subpoena issued under this section shall be regulated by Rhode Island civil practice law and rules. The hearing shall be expeditiously conducted and upon such hearing the hearing officer shall determine the issues raised thereon and shall make a determination and enter an order within thirty (30) days of the close of the hearing, and forthwith serve a copy of the order, with a notice of the filing thereof, upon the parties to the proceeding, personally or by mail. The order shall dismiss the complaint or direct payment of any wages and/or benefits found to be due and/or award such other appropriate relief or penalties authorized under chapter 28-12 and/or 28-14, and the order may direct payment of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the complaining party. Interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum shall be awarded in the order from the date of the nonpayment to the date of payment.

(d) The order shall also require payment of a further sum as a civil penalty in an amount up to two (2) times the total wages and/or benefits found to be due, exclusive of interest, which shall be shared equally between the department and the aggrieved party. In determining the amount of any penalty to impose, the director or his or her designee shall consider the size of the employer's business, the good faith of the employer, the gravity of the violation, the previous violations and whether or not the violation was an innocent mistake or willful.

(e) The director may institute any action to recover unpaid wages or other compensation or obtain relief as provided under this section with or without the consent of the employee or employees affected.

(f) No agreement between the employee and employer to work for less than the applicable wage and/or benefit rate or to otherwise work under and/or conditions in violation of applicable law is a defense to an action brought pursuant to this section.

(g) The director shall notify the contractors' registration board of any order issued or any determination hereunder that an employer has violated chapters 28-12, 28-14 and/or 37-13. The director shall notify the tax administrator of any determination hereunder that may affect liability for an employer's payment of wages and/or payroll taxes.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1941, ch. 1069, § 6; G.L. 1956, § 28-14-19; P.L. 1993, ch. 138, art. 53, § 1; P.L. 1995, ch. 123, § 1; P.L. 2002, ch. 301, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 84, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 306, § 2; P.L. 2012, ch. 344, § 2.)