Wage Theft Debate Heats up the Minnesota State Capitol

February 15, 2017 06:42 PM

Dozens of Minnesota workers rallied inside the State Capitol Wednesday, upset over what they call wage theft.

The Department of Labor says the issue costs employees millions of dollars each year. 


The concept involves employers not paying their workers what they're owed, whether that means refusing to pay for work done, not paying overtime, having employees work off the clock or just closing their doors without proper notice. 

"They need that money to pay for their life,"said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. "For their child care, their medicine, the gas in their car, the rent for their houses and maybe a gift for their children."  

The Governor's office and state lawmakers teamed up to propose a bill calling for specific reforms that include investing $1 million so the Department of Labor and Industry can investigate more wage theft complaints. There are an estimated 20,000 complaints each year and only five employees assigned to investigate those claims. 

Lawmakers also want an established definition of wage theft. They want to give the labor department the power to subpoena documents and make it mandatory for employers to provide employees with basic information when they start.

Additionally, they aim to create stiffer penalties and citations for violators and ensure regular, reliable paychecks for all Minnesota workers. 


Lindsey Brown

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