Yesterday evening, the Broward County Board of Commissioners stood up for workers and honest businesses by approving a Wage Recovery Ordinance that will help thousands of workers in Broward County who currently have nowhere to turn when they are not paid.
Broward is now officially the second county in Florida to implement this program. Miami-Dade passed the first Ordinance in Florida back in 2010 and so far has been able to recover $511,429.26 in unpaid wages through conciliation.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to do. Florida is still one of the worst states in the country when it comes to wage theft cases -which include workers who are not paid overtime or minimum wage, are forced to work off the clock, or are not paid at all. Why? Because there is no state level Department of Labor and a vast majority of workers are not covered by federal wage and hour laws. Broward County, alone, has the third largest number in the state with nearly 5,000 cases only in the last three years.
“I was at the meeting yesterday asking Commissioners to vote yes for the Ordinance, speaking on behalf of my close friends who are victims of wage theft in our county and haven’t been able to recover their wages after months of effort,” says Maria Isabel Fernandez, a resident of Dania Beach in Broward County. “I was thrilled when the Ordinance passed! It may be too late for my friends, but it will help other people like them in the future who will now have the possibility of recovering the salaries they earned through their work without having to hire a lawyer and wait months without any income.”
Along with Maria Isabel, over 16 speakers signed up for public input, including community members and advocates. Representatives of business associations and chambers, as well as some Commissioners, insisted on dismissing the magnitude of the problem saying there were only “a few bad apples,” that federal laws were already in place to protect the majority of workers, and that all Broward needed to do was to provide legal aid for those workers who wanted to take their case to the already busy court system.
Luckily some experts in the room were able to correct those misunderstandings. But the best remark was done by one of the participants in the public, “if this ordinance wasn’t necessary, why has Miami-Dade been able to recover so much in unpaid wages with its ordinance?”
These victory is thanks to the work of the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, a coalition of organizations and people that work day and night to stop the epidemic of wage theft in the sunshine state. Congratulations team!!!
As we said, the work has just begun! Still thousands of workers in our state work without being paid enough or at all.
We need to STOP WAGE THEFT, and you can help us!
If you or someone you know has been a victim of wage theft, share your story with us. Post a comment on our Facebook page, or send us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org