• Broward County Becomes Second County in Florida to Adopt ‘Wage Theft’ Ordinance
  • October 29, 2012 | Authors: G. Joseph Curley; Tanya Reed; Joseph G. Santoro
  • Law Firm: Gunster - West Palm Beach Office
  • If you have employees who perform work in Broward County, beware!

    On Tuesday, October 23, 2012, Broward joined Miami-Dade County as the second county in Florida to adopt an ordinance prohibiting “wage theft.” The wage theft ordinance was passed by a 7-2 vote, and is a controversial law that will make it easier for employees to sue their employer for unpaid wages.

    According to the ordinance, an employer is liable for wage theft if the employer fails to pay any portion of wages due to the employee within a “reasonable time” from the date on which the compensation was earned. The law presumes that a “reasonable time” is no later than 14 calendar days from the date on which the work was performed, unless the employer has an established (by policy or practice) pay schedule whereby employees earn and are consistently paid wages according to regularly recurring pay periods.

    If an employee believes they are owed $60 or more for work performed in Broward County, the employee must notify their employer within 60 days after the wages were due that they have not received the correct compensation.

    The notice must identify all wages the employee claims he/she is owed, the actual or estimated work dates and hours for which payment is sought, and the total amount of the alleged unpaid wages through the date of the notice.

    If the employer does not pay the wages specified in the employee’s notice within 15 days or otherwise resolve the claim to the employee’s satisfaction, an employee may file a complaint with the county. An employee has up to one year to file a claim for wage theft.

    If an employer has imprecise, inadequate or nonexistent time or payroll records, then the employer has the burden of disproving the claim.

    In the event an employee proves wage theft, the employer will be ordered to pay back wages, an amount equal to the amount of earned wages that were unpaid, the cost of the administrative process and the employee’s attorneys’ fees. This could total thousands of dollars.

    Employers must act now to ensure their employment practices are in compliance with the new law, which becomes effective January 1, 2013.

    All employers should conduct an audit of their wage and hour practices and evaluate all timekeeping procedures to ensure they are accurately recording the hours their employees work and paying the employees for this work within a “reasonable time,” as defined by the new law.