Labor Dept. expands enforcement of wage violations

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department is signing agreements to share information with nine states and the Internal Revenue Service as it gets more aggressive in its crackdown on businesses that cheat workers out of their hard-earned wages.

The information will help target businesses that improperly label workers as independent contractors to deprive them of minimum wage and overtime pay. Misclassifying workers also lets companies avoid paying workers compensation, unemployment insurance and federal taxes.

Labor officials say sharing information could subject businesses to multiple fines from state and federal agencies. That creates more incentive for businesses to follow the law.

Last year, the agency collected nearly $4 million in back wages for about 6,500 misclassified employees.

States working with the department include Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington.