City may refuse licenses to companies convicted of wage theft

Maria Garcia

POSTED: 06:28 PM MDT Oct 20, 2014 
UPDATED: 06:37 PM MDT Oct 20, 2014

EL PASO, Texas – The City of El Paso is preparing an ordinance meant to deter companies from stealing wages from workers. The City Council on Monday unanimously voted to direct the City Manager to draft a wage theft ordinance that would mirror the City of Houston’s law.

Houston’s ordinance forbids any person or company from obtaining or renewing any City license or permit for five years if the company has been convicted of wage theft and exhuasted all appeals. Barring persons from city licenses essentially bans them from working within the City. The ordinance also bars the city from hiring people or firms criminally convicted or assessed civil penalties or judgments related to wage theft, again provided appeals are exhausted and a civil judgment in favor of the worker goes unpaid.

The Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project, in 2011, did a study of how many workers have been victims of wage theft and say the problem is rampant. For example, they say as many as 67-percent of low wage workers aren’t paid the overtime they’re owed.