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Measure that would strip workers right to recover cheated wages advances in Florida

MahurinEcon_Thumb1_620.jpg
MahurinEcon_Thumb1_620.jpg

A measure that would override city and county ordinances that help workers cheated out of wages by their employers cleared another hurdle in the state legislature this week. #

The Senate Community Affairs committee on Monday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, that would eliminate local efforts to battle wage theft. #

The bill, filed in the House by state Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, “preempts regulation of wage theft to state, except as otherwise provided by federal law, & supersedes any municipal or county ordinance or other local regulation on such subject.” The House version of the bill is now in the Judiciary Committee. #

The bill would render useless a Miami-Dade County wage theft ordinance approved by the county commission in 2010. #

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Proponents of local wage theft ordinances have explained that: #

  • The wage theft ordinances protect local restaurant and construction workers, home workers, as well as employees at nursing homes and plant nurseries among others, through an administrative process to make the claim easier on workers.
  • Local ordinances apply to anyone who has been a victim of wage theft, including but not limited to undocumented workers.
  • Ordinances do not establish a new regulation but simply set up an accessible process outside the courts to address local wage theft cases that do not fall under the jurisdiction of existing federal laws.

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In February, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners delayed a vote on a wage theft ordinance that would establish a procedure for “victims of wage theft to recover back wages” till June 21, pending the outcome of the constitutional challenge to the Miami-Dade law filed by the Retail Federation. #

Supporters of the legislature’s bill, which includes a 30-member construction coalition as well as Palm Beach county business organizations, argue the local ordinances are unnecessary because existing state and local laws protect all Florida workers. #

Additional reporting by Travis Pillow. #

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