The St. Petersburg Wage Theft Ordinance: New Notice and Poster Requirements

Monday, June 26, 2017

The City of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently amended its wage theft ordinance to require employers to provide pay notice to employees at the time of hire and to display “in a location accessible to all employees” a poster about wage theft. See St. Pete. Code, Chap. 15, Art. III, Sec. 15-40, et seq. These requirements are not yet in effect. As detailed below, the effective date is on hold pending the completion of a memorandum of understanding by the City, which is engaging a “community-based” organization to “implement the purposes of this article.”

The ordinance defines the term “employee” broadly to mean a “natural person who performs work within the geographic boundaries of the City while being employed by an employer . . .” including “a person who performs work that benefits an employer located within the City even though the employee may have performed work outside of the City.” The ordinance excludes “any bona fide independent contractor,” stating that the term “independent contractor” “shall have the same meaning as in the Internal Revenue Code, Fair Labor Standards Act, and implementing federal regulations, administrative interpretations and guidance” (though “independent contractor” is defined differently by the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor).

Background

On December 15, 2016, the St. Petersburg City Council passed several amendments to the City’s wage theft ordinance. Under Sec. 15-44, there are three new requirements for employers. Employers must provide a “written notice” to employees at time of hire, including a “template summary” summarizing the employee’s rights (available from the City), written notice of changes in pay, and a poster (available from the City). Sec. 15-44(a)-(d). There is also a $500.00 “per violation” penalty for an employer’s failure to adhere to any part of the ordinance. Sec. 15-44(e). The term “violation” is not defined.

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Proposed Fix to Get Business Owners to Pay Unpaid Wages (FL)

By Myriam Masihy
Updated at 8:50 PM EST on Jan 24, 2017

A proposed ordinance could help strengthen Miami-Dade County’s existing wage theft ordinance.

Commissioner Pepe Diaz introduced the plan that would add attorney fees to the amount a business owes an employee who takes them to court over unpaid wages.

“They can try to ignore it but it’s going to be a lot harder,” Diaz said.

The county has a wage theft ordinance that allows a worker to take a former employer to a hearing over unpaid money. A hearing officer can rule that a business owner has to pay. But the NBC 6 Investigators found business owners still not paying workers even after the deadline passes.

The new plan would require a business to pay attorney fees and costs that a worker takes on trying to get the money. An attorney is not required in the initial hearing portion of a wage theft hearing but could be needed to pursue a business that doesn’t pay.

“We’re going to continue to do things so hopefully, hopefully this will be a thing of the past in Miami-Dade County,” Diaz said.

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Steps for the St. Pete’s Wage Theft Protection Program

BY DARDEN RICE, Vice Chair of St. Pete City Council
Posted on October 13, 2016 by TWC

ST. PETERSBURG – St. Petersburg’s Wage Theft Prevention Program has been underway for the past year. “Wage theft” is a broad term that includes any type of non-payment or underpayment by an employer. It can take the form of loss of overtime, illegal tip practices, being paid less than minimum wage and independent contractor misclassification.

According to a study conducted by Florida International University, Pinellas County has the fourth highest rate of wage theft in the state.

When unscrupulous businesses cheat their workers our economy suffers. Honest businesses are losing profits by being forced to compete against unethical businesses that have an unfair advantage. Workers are struggling to pay their bills and cannot afford to put money back into the local economy. All taxpayers suffer when employers refuse to pay their fair share into Social Security and workers’ compensation insurance by misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. The St. Petersburg Wage Theft Prevention Program sees these impacts first-hand on a daily basis.

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St. Petersburg City Council seeks to bolster program to fight wage theft

Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, September 15, 2016 1:25pm

ST. PETERSBURG – The city has had a wage-theft program for a year, but it hasn’t worked as well as hoped.

Last month, the program’s coordinator outlined some tweaks that would strengthen enforcement and help drive recalcitrant employers to the negotiating table.

On Sept. 8, City Council members again tried to suss out how to make the fledgling program stronger.

Amy Foster wondered if exempting complainants from Florida’s Sunshine Law might encourage more people to formally file complaints with the city. Right now, less than half of those who call the city’s office actually file a complaint.

Many of those people are afraid of retaliation or ending up in the newspaper or other media, Foster said. Charlie Gerdes countered by pointing out if victims were exempted from public records laws, offending companies would be, too. And any exemption from the Sunshine Law would need state approval.

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Miami Beach commission approves minimum wage raise

JUNE 8, 2016

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – The Miami Beach City commission unanimously approved an ordinance establishing a city-wide minimum living wage increase.

The ordinance, which was first proposed by Mayor Philip Levine and co-sponsored by all six city commissioners, will take effect January 1, 2018, and gradually increase over four years until 2021. The minimum living wage will be first set at $10.31 and will increase over four years to $13.31.

The new minimum wage will apply to all workers employed in the City of Miami Beach and those covered by the federal minimum wage.

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St. Pete leaders pass wage theft ordinance

BY STEVEN GIRARDI
Tribune staff
Published: April 2, 2015

 

ST. PETERSBURG – An ordinance to help protect workers from being paid unfairly or, in some cases, not paid at all, passed its first review by the City Council on Thursday. The council voted unanimously to establish a city office to help workers file and pursue wage theft complaints against employers. The ordinance will require a second approval later this month.

City Councilwoman Darden Rice, who proposed the ordinance, said the city needs to protect workers, as well as employers who are harmed by competitors who pay illegally low wages.

The wage theft problem gained attention when Pinellas landed forth on list of counties with the highest incidents of wage theft in the state, behind Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Broward, in a study by Florida International University in Miami.

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Report: Wage theft on the rise in Bay area

Sarah Hagen, WTSP6:43 p.m. EDT

March 20, 2015

 

 

St. Petersburg, Florida — Could you be a victim of wage theft? It’s when an employer doesn’t pay in full, fails to pay minimum wage, ignores overtime pay, makes you work through meal breaks or pays late.

“Pushing for a wage theft ordinance in St. Pete will make bad businesses think twice before cheating employees,” said councilwoman Darden Rice. She adds, it’s the many personal stories like Scott Snurpus’ that have motivated her for change

“Once I realized I was being robbed I was mad,” says Snurpus who was working as an electrician. He says his temp agency was wrongly taking money from his paycheck to pay for equipment. Since then the US Labor Board got involved and he’s gotten his money back.

Rice says certain industries are more likely to target victims “Low-wage industries: fast food workers, nursing homes, construction workers,” she says.

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Feds, Florida reach deal on construction industry rip-off

BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
01/13/2015 7:39 PM

 

Taxpayers were cheated.

Workers were swindled out of a fair shake.

Law-abiding businesses were forced to cut corners or go belly up.

A year-long investigation by Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers published in September found all this and more in Florida’s construction industry during the recession.

Publicly available documents and interviews with workers around Florida showed that contractors broke state law and cheated on their taxes in order to get work on the federally financed projects that were the lifeblood of the building industry between 2009 and 2013.

Now the U.S. Department of Labor has announced an agreement with the state Department of Revenue to crack down on the accounting trick that bad actors use to evade taxes and cheat their employees.

The problem, known as “worker misclassification,” happens when companies treat their workers as independent contractors instead of permanent employees. The companies don’t withhold income tax or file payroll taxes on those workers. They don’t pay unemployment taxes.