Ensuring a Fair Day’s Pay

Kim Cullen
Jul 28, 2016

As employees join the “Fight for 15” and attempt to raise the minimum wage, many workers across the country are fighting just to collect last week’s paycheck. Now, following the example of other cities, counties, and states, Philadelphia ischanging the way it operates to make it easier for employees to collect the money they have earned and to deter employers from engaging in a practice known as wage theft.

Wage theft occurs when an employer does not pay an employee correctly. It takes many forms: failure to pay employees for hours they have worked, payment that is less than the minimum wage, failure to pay employees their proper overtime rate, and more. A recent report from Temple University’s Sheller Center for Social Justice estimates that in any given workweek, Pennsylvania employees lose between $19 and $32 million dollars due to wage theft. In the Philadelphia area alone, tens of thousands of wage theft cases occur every week. To address this reality, the Philadelphia City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will increase the city’s capacity to enforce the state and federal wage laws that are designed to protect employees from wage theft.

The ordinance makes two important changes to Philadelphia’s current regulatory scheme. First, the ordinance creates a Wage Theft Coordinator position within the city government. The Coordinator will receive, review, and adjudicate new wage theft complaints. While adjudicating, the Coordinator will examine the evidence-which could include records of hours worked and rates of pay-and determine if an employer has violated any wage laws. If the employer is found guilty and refuses to comply with the judgment, the Coordinator will have the authority to take further action by filing a complaint in court.

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OSHA targets Philadelphia with new campaign after 5 fall incidents in 1 month

By Kim Slowey | July 14, 2016

Dive Brief:

  • In the wake of five fall-related incidents in a one-month period, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made a public plea for Philadelphia construction companies to take greater measures to prevent fall-related accidents, the agency said in a press release.
  • OSHA said the July 7 death of roofer Roy Chacon marked the fifth fall-related area accident since June 13.
  • In effort to combat these incidents, OSHA said it has joined forces with the City of Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections and the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health to implement the “Grassroots Injury-Illness Prevention” campaign, which will host several forums addressing the city’s safety issues and how to tackle them.


Dive Insight:

OSHA Philadelphia Area Office Director Nicholas DeJesse said that if the dead or injured workers’ employers would have provided adequate fall protection, the accidents could have been avoided.

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Philly’s new wage theft ordinance is now in effect

You can file complaints through city if employer doesn’t pay out

JULY 07, 2016

A new city ordinance gives employees working in the city of Philadelphia a tool to reclaim wages stolen by an employer.

The ordinance, signed into law by then-Mayor Michael Nutter in December 2015, went into effect on July 1.

The legislation was introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee in an effort to curb the illegal practice in Philadelphia, where workers of color and those in the service industry are disproportionally affected, Al Dia News reported last year.

According to data, up to $32 million in wages is withheld from workers statewide every week, and about 93,000 instances of wage theft occur in that same time period in the Philadelphia metro area, according to the news outlet.

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Philadelphia’s Tough New Anti-Wage Theft Law Effective July 1

by Timothy McCarthy, Stephanie Peet

Effective on July 1, 2016, the City of Philadelphia’s Wage Theft Law imposes higher penalties for violations than currently are imposed by the state’s anti-wage theft law, provides for a private right of action for alleged violations, and creates the position of Wage Theft Coordinator within the City’s Managing Director’s Office.

While wage theft (typically refers to the intentional non-payment or underpayment of earned wages) is already subject to penalty under Pennsylvania’s Wage Payment and Collection Law (43 P.S. § 260.1 et seq.), Philadelphia’s new ordinance increases employers’ compliance obligations and potential penalties for violations.

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law the City’s first anti-wage theft ordinance (“Wage Theft Law”) on December 1, 2015.

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