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Question of the Month ~ September 2019

 

Question: What are Midwestern states doing to prevent or crack down on wage theft?

by Mitch Arvidson ~ September 2019 ~ Question of the Month »
Minnesota passed a new wage theft law during the spring legislative session. HF 2 (an omnibus jobs, economic development, energy and commerce finance bill) includes appropriations of nearly $2 million a year for wage theft prevention, doubes the number of investigators, and makes certain wage-theft violations a felony.
Wage-theft violations can cover minimum wage, overtime, forcing employees to work off-the-clock, meal breaks, pay stub and illegal deductions, tipped minimum wage, and misclassification of employees.
According to a 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute, 2.4 million workers in the 10 most populous U.S. states lose $8 billion a year in minimum-wage violations alone.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry estimates that 39,000 workers in the state lose nearly $12 million per year.
Minnesota is not the only state in the region to address this issue.
In Illinois, SB 161 takes effect in January. It creates a Worker Protection Unit within the attorney general's office. It will work with the Illinois Department of Labor to detect unlawful conduct and sue violators of several laws, including the Prevailing Wage Act and the Employee Classification Act.
Indiana's SB 465 (from 2009) requires employers to post minimum-wage requirements and provides for the sharing of information about classification of construction workers between the state's Department of Labor, Department of Revenue, Workforce Development agency and Worker's Compensation Board.
SF 2416 (from 2008) requires the labor commissioner in Iowa's Department of Workforce Development to investigate alleged violations and to file an annual report on the administration of the state's wage-theft laws. That law also established civil penalties and specified which employer actions are considered simple, serious or aggravated misdemeanors.
Nebraska's LB 560 (from 2014) requires employers to give each employee an itemized statement listing their wages and deducitons each payday. It also provides whistleblower protections to employees and criminal penalties for employers who violate the law.
The Ohio Fair Minimum Wage Amendment, approved by voters in 2006, forces employers found in violation of wage laws to pay the employee's back wages and damages, as well as the employee's costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
Wisconsin Act 292 of 2009 allows the state Department of Workforce Development to issue stop-work orders and impose penalties due to the misclassification of employees in the construction industry.

 

Question of the Month highlights an inquiry sent to the CSG Midwest Information Help Line.