Since the development of workplace rights in the early 20th century, attorneys general offices have had the responsibility to enforce state labor laws either directly or through the representation of a state agency.  Attorneys general are currently expanding that role by working both with their state labor agencies and independently taking actions.


An Overview of State Attorney General Labor Jurisdiction

State attorneys general have, in many cases, played an affirmative role in protecting workplace rights. By using a cross-section of states, this memorandum highlights the various ways state attorneys general exercise jurisdiction to protect workers and enforce labor laws.

State AG Labor-Related Cases and Investigations

Federal Labor Cases/Investigations

U.S. Department of Labor Enforcement Accomplishments (2010-2016)

  • The following document provides an overview of some important enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Department of Labor under federal wage-hour laws, workplace retaliation laws, and occupational safety and health regulations.

False Claims Act Cases

  • Amended Complaint in Intervention, United States Of America, Ex Rel. Brian Wall, v. Circle C Construction, LLC, Phase Tech, LLC, No. 3-07-0091 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20, 2008).

State AG Amicus Briefs

Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo 

  • Brief in support of Respondents asking court to protect collective and class actions to recover unpaid wages.

  • Amici states - Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington

National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA Inc.

  • Brief in support of NLRB finding that arbitration agreements that bar workers from pursuing work-related claims on a collective or class basis in any forum are prohibited under the National Labor Relations Act.

  • Amici States - Maryland, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and The District Of Columbia

State AG Comments Related to Federal Rulemaking

Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees - New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington (Sept. 25, 2017). 

Articles/Background Materials

State AG Office Data and Reports

Massachusetts Attorney General Fair Labor Division Data

  • Provides public information on complaints, agency enforcement, debarment and bid decisions.

Reports on Relevant Topics of Interest Issued by Non-AG Sources

Contracted Out: Finding from a National Voter Survey (2016)

  • Survey among voters conducted online from August 17 - 23, 2016 on behalf of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) by Hart Research Associates.

Enforcement of State Wage and Hour Laws: A Survey of State Regulators, National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School (April 2011).

  • Executive Summary

  • The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School published a first of its kind report on the enforcement of state wage and hour laws. According to the Executive Summary, authors "developed a comprehensive survey on wage and hour enforcement, distributed it to state agencies responsible for such enforcement, and analyzed the responses. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia completed at least some portion of the survey. The results are shared here for the purpose of creating an objective depiction of state activity in wage and hour enforcement that we hope will serve as an inspiration and jumping-off point for further research, by the states and others. A major goal of the project was to determine not only the methods and extent of enforcement, but also states’ procedures and abilities to track and share data about their enforcement efforts."

(In)dependent Contractor Misclassification Economic Policy Institute (June 8, 2015).

  • 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute, which relies on state and federal studies on employee misclassfication.

National Employment Law Project Fact Sheet on Misclassification (July 2015)

From the Tierney Blog

For additional resources on labor, see the Labor section of the National State Attorneys General Program (AGP) archive: