Pennsylvania’s 2011 Employee Misclassification Law Hasn’t Resulted in a Single Prosecution

Awareness about employee misclassification is growing and with it new laws have been enacted. But enacting a law and enforcing one are two different things, as demonstrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of Pennsylvania effort to combat the workers’ rights issue.  

Act 72, which set standards for who can and cannot be labeled an independent contractor, went into effect in 2011 but has resulted in very few court cases.  Under the act those who misclassify employees can face a $2,500 fine per violation. The law also allows for the Department of Labor and Industry to cease work on any project at which a violation has occurred. Sadly, “This thing is a toothless tiger right now,” according to Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

The press conference where Morganelli made this remark also featured Kevin Lott of the Carpenters Union, State Senator Lisa Boscola, and State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Mike Stack.  Boscola said she wants the legislature to call for a report on the Department of Labor and Industry’s activities so that they can apply pressure to ensure Act 72 is enforced.  Stack said he has asked for a progress report from the department but had not heard back from them in weeks.

Pennsylvania officials have not released a report on Act 72 since 2011, according to the Morning Call:

Labor and Industry posted a summary report for 2011, but none since. In 2011 the department opened 29 investigations into complaints, and all remained ongoing at year’s end, according to the report. The department has not issued reports for 2012 or 2013, though the 2011 report noted, “The department’s enforcement of Act 72 is in its formative stages.”

Morganelli told reporters at the conference that he had not prosecuted any cases under Act 72, but had referred one case to the county’s investigative grand jury.

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