Study Finds Growing Wage Theft Problem in Florida

A study by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University entitled “Wage Theft: An Economic Drain on Florida” found wage theft to be a growing and widespread problem in Florida. The Study found that the tourism industry (which includes the accommodation and food service industries), the retail trade industry, and construction industry were particularly impacted by wage theft. In a double blow to employees, the Study found that the lowest wage earners were the most likely to be victims of wage theft, even though such low wage earners are the least able group of worker to be able to afford non-payment of earned wages. As the Study notes, wage theft takes many forms, including unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wages, working through unpaid meal periods, mislabeling employees as independent contractors, requiring off-the-clock work, changing time cards or pay records, illegal pay deductions, and paying wages late or not at all. The Study points out that wage theft is bad not only for employees affected, but also for the business community because it allows unscrupulous employers to gain an unfair advantage by putting law abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage. The Study concludes that much more can be done to combat wage theft because Florida’s has no statewide mechanism, such as a Florida labor board, to enforce existing Florida’s wage laws. Such enforcement of the wage laws is largely left to attorneys who represent employees whose wage rights have been violated, and/or the U.S. Department of Labor if the wage violation is within the scope of federal law. If your employer is violating your wage rights, or you have questions about the pay practices where you work, call Bober & Bober, P.A. at 1-800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

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