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‘Wage-theft’ bill moving in House

by Dara Kam | February 22nd, 2012

Counties like Palm Beach won’t be able to craft non-judicial ways to handle disputes over whether workers have been cheated out of their pay under a measure moving in the Florida House.

The House Judiciary Committee passed a revised “wage theft” proposal (HB 609) this morning with a party-line, 12-6 vote. The GOP-dominated committee thwarted an attempt to grandfather in Miami-Dade, the only county in the state thus far to pass a wage theft ordinance creating an alternate wage dispute system. Palm Beach County commissioners are considering a similar proposal.

The Florida Retail Federation and other business lobbies are pushing the ban on local wage theft ordinances, which they say make it too easy for worker challenges. But labor unions and immigrant advocates oppose the measure. They say undocumented workers are more vulnerable to being cheated out of their wages but are afraid to report their employers and don’t want to end up in court.

The House proposal would allow counties or municipalities to create a system to help workers file the complaints in court that would also include mediation. The measure also limits any wage theft complaints to workers making less than $500,000 and requires that the complaints be filed within a year.

A Senate version stalled this week, but Republican senators are trying to work out their differences as the March 9 end of the legislative session approaches.

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4 Responses to “‘Wage-theft’ bill moving in House”

  1. Reasonable Says:

    Too bad Miami’s solution appears to have some constitutional issues…

    The county can’t be judge, jury and executioner… being paid from proceeds of fines paid by those they choose to pursue, and not raise some eyebrows….

    Kudos to those attempting to create a system that will pass legal muster, yet provide some avenue of relief for those who have outstanding wages owed to them.

    Unfortunately a few folks are not willing to budge and require Miami to be more reasonable. Their efforts may kill the whole issue, and in turn negate the ability of any county wishing to address this issue.

  2. FL GOP SUCKS Says:

    At the same time right wingers are supporting a bill that would drop the minimum wage for service industry professionals.
    Make no mistake there is a class war and its being launched from the right.
    Dropping the min-wage in a state that relies on so many service industry workers would be devastating to the economy and to low income wage earners.

    What the hell is wrong with Republicans?

    This ain’t the 1950s anymore.

  3. Actual Facts Says:

    Apparently the first comment was left by a Florida Retail Federation advocate since those are the org’s talking points without actually knowing how the MD ordinance workers. There are no fines at all paid to the county. The certified administrative hearing officers determine the cases and any punitive damages are paid to the stiffed workers. But, most cases don’t even make it that far and are conciliated at no additional cost to the employer other than the earned wages that were already owed to the worker. The FRF’s current design offers no incentive for employers to conciliate and forces the victimized worker to go through the courts, pay filing fees and costs, wait months, and then get back only his original earned wages. No damages are permitted. Sounds pretty cost effective for the employers. Wonder why workers have a problem with it?

  4. Who Says:

    Would be very interesting to see which select businesses support this move. Probably none that are completely above board in their operations.

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