Officials of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the New York State Labor Department and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office have signed memoranda of understanding to protect the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses.

The memoranda of understanding represent a new effort on the part of the three agencies to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification.

The New York State Labor Department and New York State Attorney General's Office are the latest state agencies to partner with the Labor Department. In the lpast two years, the Wage Hour Division has secured over $18.2 million in back wages for more than 19,000 workers where the primary reason for minimum wage or overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act was that workers were not treated or classified as employees. This represents a 97 percent increase in back wages following the implementation of these agreements.

"Working with the states is an important tool in ending misclassification," said M. Patricia Smith, U.S. Solicitor of Labor. "These collaborations allow us to better coordinate and ensure compliance with both federal and state laws alike."

"Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses," said Laura Fortman, the principal deputy administrator of the WHD. "These memoranda of understanding send a clear message that we are standing together with the State of New York to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed."