Broward County Protects Employees from Wage Theft with New Ordinance

As of October 23, 2012, Broward County became the second county in Florida to adopt an ordinance prohibiting wage theft.  In a 7-2 vote, the Board of County Commissioners voted to create a new law to deal with the substantial problem of wage theft in Florida.  This Ordinance will help employees who are not paid the minimum wage, forced to work off the clock, or not paid overtime.

The Ordinance will make it easier for employees to sue their employers for unpaid wages.  The Ordinance applies to any employer of any size with employees working in the county.  An employer is liable for wage theft if an employer does not pay the employee with 14 days of the wages being earned unless the employer has another established policy or practice of regular pay periods.

Any employee who believes they are owed $60 or more can bring a claim under the Ordinance.  The employee must first notify the employer in writing within 60 days after the wages were due that they are owed compensation.  The written demand must list all wages that the employee claims is owed, the estimated or actual work dates and hours for which payment is sought, and the total amount of unpaid wages.  If the employer does not pay the wages within 15 days, the employee can file a complaint with the county.  When an employee is able to establish wage theft, the employer will be obligated to pay back wages, the county’s administrative costs, and attorneys’ fees. The employee has up to one year to file a claim for wage theft.

A final version of the Ordinance will be considered later this year and if it is passed it will become effective on January 1, 2013.  Abbey Spanier will provide updates on the Ordinance and will let readers know if it becomes effective in 2013.

Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well-recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.