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Maryland Department of Labor Hosts Joint Enforcement Task Force on Workplace Fraud

ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 7, 2024) – The Maryland Department of Labor today hosted the meeting of Maryland’s Joint Enforcement Task Force on Workplace Fraud, an inter-agency working group focused on strengthening enforcement of employment laws and making Maryland more competitive by making the state a more fair and equitable place to do business. The task force is the result of an executive order signed earlier this year by Governor Wes Moore to relaunch the body after having fallen dormant in the last few years.

“When we talk about workplace fraud, it doesn’t just hurt individual people – it hurts everyone. To win the decade, we need to be a state that stands up for workers, stands up for good pay and good benefits and stands up to bad actors who abuse the system for their own gain,” said Gov. Moore. “I want to thank the members of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on Workplace Fraud for raising their hand to serve on this task force. Your service isn’t just appreciated – it’s necessary.”

The nine-member task force is chaired by Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Portia Wu and includes Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown and Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman. As outlined in the governor’s executive order, the task force will coordinate efforts to make enforcement more collaborative and strategic between government agencies by sharing information and data. It will better target resources to identify industries that might be more susceptible to these bad practices and focus efforts to cure the problem, including stronger outreach to both businesses and workers.

“The task force will advance the administration’s efforts to make Maryland a fair and equitable place to work and do business,” said Secretary Portia Wu, who serves as the task force chair. “To drive equitable growth and build a strong talent pipeline to key industries, we must have a fair and level playing field, and it’s our joint responsibility to make that happen.”

The task force will begin its work by engaging with business owners, labor leaders, and workers who will illustrate the need for strategic enforcement and compliance and make recommendations on where regulations and laws can be strengthened. Visible enforcement of the state’s wage laws, including misclassification, is an effective deterrent to fraud, making the business environment in Maryland one of equal footing and opportunity.

Comptroller Lierman emphasized how workplace fraud impacts both individuals and the entire state. “As the state’s revenue administrator, I know that too many companies are deliberately failing to properly classify their workers to avoid paying the appropriate taxes," said Comptroller Lierman, who represented workers in her career as an attorney prior to her current office. "We want to let all bad actors know that misclassifying workers is not an acceptable business practice. My agency will aggressively pursue lawbreakers who are robbing workers of their paychecks and the state of the resources needed to reach its full potential.”

"The consequences of wage theft extend far beyond the workplace, impacting families and local economies, and government revenues. I look forward to bringing the full force of my Office along with the efforts of the Joint Task Force to eliminate workplace fraud from our State," said Attorney General Brown. "Workplace fraud and depriving workers of the pay and benefits they deserve will not be tolerated in Maryland."

The task force will meet publicly throughout the year. A yearly report to the governor on the task force’s activities will be made available to the public.

The Department of Labor strives to create an equitable and inclusive Maryland where all residents have the opportunities and resources to attain financial stability, reach their career potential, and contribute to their communities; where businesses have access to capital and the skilled workforce they need to succeed; where workplaces are safe and well-regulated; and where the economy is resilient and growing. For updates and information, follow Labor on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and visit our website.

Jamie Mangrum