Minnesota New Wage Theft Law One of Toughest in Nation
Since August, Minnesota has implemented one of the toughest laws against wage theft in the country. Situations often arise where employees work full time for an employer at a one building, and then take additional shifts at the employer’s other buildings. This can result in employees working up to 80 hours per week. But when payday comes around, instead of getting one check to cover the employees’ regular hours plus time-and-a-half for overtime, employees receive two separate checks from two different companies set up by their employer, each company paying them the base rate for a 40-hour work week.
Wage theft is legally defined as when an employer fails to pay an employee their earned wages, which could mean situations such as withholding a paycheck or failing to pay the state minimum wage. Violations now come with criminal penalties—fines up to $100,000 and up to 20 years in prison.
Minnesota is one of only two states in the country that makes wage theft a felony in some cases, and the state is taking enforcement of this law seriously. The Department of Labor and Industry has hired seven new staffers dedicated solely to investigating these claims. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry estimates more than 39,000 workers—many of them immigrants—are victims of wage theft each year. The industries that are the biggest offenders of wage theft include construction, hospitality, agriculture, and home care workers.
The new law also expands notification requirements for employers. Employers must now tell employees their pay rate, inform them of overtime and wage laws, and when they should expect to be paid. Lawmakers from both parties supported the bill last session, arguing the most fundamental right of a worker is to be paid the wages they are owed.
For a summary of Minnesota’s new Wage Theft Law, go to: https://www.dli.mn.gov/business/employment-practices/wage-theft-legislation-2019-and-summaries