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Measure Would Ensure That Employees Are Fairly Compensated for Work Performed

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano has introduced the Wage Protection Act to protect workers from unscrupulous employers and ensure that employees are compensated for all wages owed.

“Wage theft is an insidious problem that affects all professions and communities,” said Quijano (D-Union). “The Wage Protection Act will provide the appropriate channels for employees to seek earned but unpaid wages from their employers. It also imposes strict penalties for employers convicted of wage theft, which is intended to serve more as a deterrent than a punishment. Bottom line, individuals must be paid properly for their labor.”

The Wage Protection Act would provide recourse for employees who are owed wages or any other type of compensation by an employer and establishes penalties for violating laws regarding the disbursement of wages, compensations and/or benefits.

Quijano noted that the act would not only ensure that an employee is compensated for all wages owed but will also impose fines for first time and additional offenses. Convicted employers may also face annulment of any licenses provided by the Department of Labor.

Several significant provisions of the act include:

1. Employers must pay 100% of wages owed;

2. Employers will face a fine of $1,000 plus 10% of wages owed for a first time offense;

3. Employers will face pay a fine of $2,000 plus 20% of wages owed for each additional offense;

4. An employer will be charged with a disorderly offense for attempting retaliation against an employee filing a claim;

5. An employee may use a pseudonym/address of an attorney if in fear of retaliation;

6. The Department of Labor must be notified of an employer who has been convicted and may choose to indefinitely revoke any licenses from the Department of Labor held by a convicted employer; and

7. A bi-annual report on the effectiveness of this act must be filed by the commissioner, along with recommendations for increasing efficacy.

The Wage Protection Act would revise current provisions of existing laws regarding criminal code in order to strengthen enforcement procedures and criminal sanctions against employers who fail to pay wages, compensation or benefits to their employees.