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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

177.27 POWERS AND DUTIES OF COMMISSIONER.
    Subdivision 1. Examination of records. The commissioner may enter during reasonable
office hours or upon request and inspect the place of business or employment of any employer
of employees working in the state, to examine and inspect books, registers, payrolls, and
other records of any employer that in any way relate to wages, hours, and other conditions of
employment of any employees. The commissioner may transcribe any or all of the books,
registers, payrolls, and other records as the commissioner deems necessary or appropriate and
may question the employees to ascertain compliance with sections 177.21 to 177.435. The
commissioner may investigate wage claims or complaints by an employee against an employer if
the failure to pay a wage may violate Minnesota law or an order or rule of the department.
    Subd. 2. Submission of records; penalty. The commissioner may require the employer of
employees working in the state to submit to the commissioner photocopies, certified copies, or,
if necessary, the originals of employment records which the commissioner deems necessary or
appropriate. The records which may be required include full and correct statements in writing,
including sworn statements by the employer, containing information relating to wages, hours,
names, addresses, and any other information pertaining to the employer's employees and the
conditions of their employment as the commissioner deems necessary or appropriate.
The commissioner may require the records to be submitted by certified mail delivery or, if
necessary, by personal delivery by the employer or a representative of the employer, as authorized
by the employer in writing.
The commissioner may fine the employer up to $1,000 for each failure to submit or deliver
records as required by this section. This penalty is in addition to any penalties provided under
section 177.32, subdivision 1. In determining the amount of a civil penalty under this subdivision,
the appropriateness of such penalty to the size of the employer's business and the gravity of the
violation shall be considered.
    Subd. 3. Adequacy of records. If the records maintained by the employer do not provide
sufficient information to determine the exact amount of back wages due an employee, the
commissioner may make a determination of wages due based on available evidence and mediate a
settlement with the employer.
    Subd. 4. Compliance orders. The commissioner may issue an order requiring an employer
to comply with sections 177.21 to 177.435, 181.02, 181.03, 181.031, 181.032, 181.101, 181.11,
181.12, 181.13, 181.14, 181.145, 181.15, 181.275, subdivision 2a, and 181.79, or with any rule
promulgated under section 177.28. The department shall serve the order upon the employer or
the employer's authorized representative in person or by certified mail at the employer's place of
business. An employer who wishes to contest the order must file written notice of objection to
the order with the commissioner within 15 calendar days after being served with the order. A
contested case proceeding must then be held in accordance with sections 14.57 to 14.69. If, within
15 calendar days after being served with the order, the employer fails to file a written notice of
objection with the commissioner, the order becomes a final order of the commissioner.
    Subd. 5. Civil actions. The commissioner may bring an action in the district court where an
employer resides or where the commissioner maintains an office to enforce or require compliance
with orders issued under subdivision 4.
    Subd. 6.[Repealed, 1996 c 386 s 13]
    Subd. 7. Employer liability. If an employer is found by the commissioner to have
violated a section identified in subdivision 4, or any rule adopted under section 177.28, and the
commissioner issues an order to comply, the commissioner shall order the employer to cease
and desist from engaging in the violative practice and to take such affirmative steps that in the
judgment of the commissioner will effectuate the purposes of the section or rule violated. The
commissioner shall order the employer to pay to the aggrieved parties back pay, gratuities, and
compensatory damages, less any amount actually paid to the employee by the employer, and for an
additional equal amount as liquidated damages. Any employer who is found by the commissioner
to have repeatedly or willfully violated a section or sections identified in subdivision 4 shall be
subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation for each employee. In determining
the amount of a civil penalty under this subdivision, the appropriateness of such penalty to the
size of the employer's business and the gravity of the violation shall be considered. In addition,
the commissioner may order the employer to reimburse the department and the attorney general
for all appropriate litigation and hearing costs expended in preparation for and in conducting the
contested case proceeding, unless payment of costs would impose extreme financial hardship
on the employer. If the employer is able to establish extreme financial hardship, then the
commissioner may order the employer to pay a percentage of the total costs that will not cause
extreme financial hardship. Costs include but are not limited to the costs of services rendered by
the attorney general, private attorneys if engaged by the department, administrative law judges,
court reporters, and expert witnesses as well as the cost of transcripts. Interest shall accrue on, and
be added to, the unpaid balance of a commissioner's order from the date the order is signed by the
commissioner until it is paid, at an annual rate provided in section 549.09, subdivision 1, paragraph
(c). The commissioner may establish escrow accounts for purposes of distributing damages.
    Subd. 8. Court actions; suits brought by private parties. An employee may bring a civil
action seeking redress for a violation or violations of sections 177.21 to 177.44 directly to district
court. An employer who pays an employee less than the wages and overtime compensation to
which the employee is entitled under sections 177.21 to 177.44 is liable to the employee for the
full amount of the wages, gratuities, and overtime compensation, less any amount the employer
is able to establish was actually paid to the employee and for an additional equal amount as
liquidated damages. In addition, in an action under this subdivision the employee may seek
damages and other appropriate relief provided by subdivision 7 and otherwise provided by law.
An agreement between the employee and the employer to work for less than the applicable
wage is not a defense to the action.
    Subd. 9. District court jurisdiction. Any action brought under subdivision 8 may be filed in
the district court of the county wherein a violation or violations of sections 177.21 to 177.44 are
alleged to have been committed, where the respondent resides or has a principal place of business,
or any other court of competent jurisdiction. The action may be brought by one or more employees.
    Subd. 10. Attorney fees and costs. In any action brought pursuant to subdivision 8, the court
shall order an employer who is found to have committed a violation or violations of sections
177.21 to 177.44 to pay to the employee or employees reasonable costs, disbursements, witness
fees, and attorney fees.
History: 1973 c 721 s 7; 1982 c 424 s 49,130; 1983 c 209 s 1; 1984 c 628 art 4 s 1; 1Sp1985
c 13 s 279; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 329 s 21; 1987 c 384 art 2 s 1; 1996 c 386 s 1-6; 2007 c 46 s
1; 2007 c 135 art 3 s 4-8