• Employers Must Act Now To Ensure Compliance with New ‘Wage Theft’ Law
  • November 9, 2012 | Authors: G. Joseph Curley; Tanya Reed; Joseph G. Santoro
  • Law Firm: Gunster - West Palm Beach Office
  • Controversial law makes it easier for employees to sue

    If you have employees who perform work in Broward County, you need to make sure your wage and hour practices are in compliance with the new law, which takes effect January 1, 2013.

    No matter the industry, employers doing business in Broward should conduct an audit of their wage and hour practices and evaluate timekeeping procedures to verify 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.

    Plan to attend Gunster’s complimentary, one-hour breakfast seminar on November 13 to learn more about how this law may affect your business. RSVP now.

    What’s new?

    On 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 alleged 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.

    Effect on employers

    The burden of proof rests with the employer. If an employer has imprecise, inadequate or nonexistent time or payroll records, then the employer has the burden of disproving an employee’s claim.

    Costs can include wages and fees. 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.