Federal penalties are increasing dramatically

The maximum penalties that can be imposed on businesses by federal agencies are being dramatically increased, as a result of a new law passed by Congress.

OSHA’s civil penalties hadn’t increased since 1990, but that changed on August 1, 2016, when they jumped roughly 80%. The top penalty for a serious OSHA violation went from $7,000 to $12,471, and the top penalty for a willful or repeated violation went from $70,000 to $124,709.

What’s more, if an employer was inspected before August 1, but OSHA didn’t issue a citation until after August 1, OSHA can issue a penalty at the new higher rate. Since OSHA has six months from the date of a violation to issue a citation, it’s expected that a lot of companies that were inspected in the first part of 2016 will see large penalties assessed after August 1.

Also on August 1, the maximum penalty for an I-9 paperwork violation went from $1,100 to $2,156. The maximum first-offense penalty for knowingly hiring an unauthorized worker went from $3,200 to $4,313.

The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations of the wage-and-hour laws increased from $1,100 per employee to $1,894 per employee. And a number of EPA penalties have gone up as well.

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