Embattled Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, announced yesterday that he is examining ways to restore “general government operations” as the two sides remain far apart on a budget:
“The employees would get paid, our vendors would get paid. We’d be able to keep open all of the facilities that are in danger of closing. And I think it is time to do that, and I’ve got to find a proper and appropriate vehicle to do that.”
I suspect that the governor fears repercussions from the U.S. Department of Labor’s investigation of the Commonwealth for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), by not paying employees at least the minimum wage. Thousands of state workers flooded the DOL with calls on July 24, after they were only paid for 2 days work for the 80-hour/ 2-week pay period. These were the final wages earned before July 1, when the Commonwealth lost the ability to pay it’s bills.
Previously, Governor Rendell and House Democrats had blocked Republicans’ attempts at introducing a stop-gap budget. Now that the Commonwealth is under federal investigation, it appears that they may attempt to find a way to pay the employees, to avoid further violations of the FLSA… and for good reason. One of the remedies available under the FLSA is to order the payment of all back wages plus an equal amount in liquid damages. Furthermore, the Secretary of the DOL can seek injunctive relief to include double the amount in damages or triple the amount in damages if the violation is willful. In addition, the DOL may impose fines upon the perpetrator.