Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wage Theft Claims–Before You Lay Off or Furlough your Employees, Remember to Pay Them for the Time They’ve Worked

In the midst of making the emotionally wrecking decision to institute a furlough or layoff, many business owners forget or neglect certain logistical matters. One such matter that can cause unnecessary headaches is forgetting to pay these employees for work they have already done Not only can this result in an overtime or minimum wage claim, but many municipalities have enacted “wage theft” ordinances. To illustrate how these “wage theft” claims work, we are going to utilize Miami-Dade County’s ordinance.

Section 22-3 of Miami-Dade County’s ordinances states, “[f]or any employer to fail to pay any portion of wages due to an employee, according to the wage rate applicable to that employee, within a reasonable time from the date on which that employee performed the work for which those wages were compensation, shall be wage theft; and such a violation shall entitle an employee, upon a finding by a hearing examiner appointed by Miami-Dade County or by a court of competent jurisdiction that an employer is found to have unlawfully failed to pay wages, to receive back wages in addition to liquidated damages from that employer.” Upon filing a wage theft complaint with the County, the matter will be set before an administrative hearing examiner/officer. Trembly Law Firm has successfully represented clients in these claims.

If a claimant is successful, the administrative hearing examiner/officer will issue an order requiring the employer to pay claimant restitution in an amount equal to three times the amount of back wages that the employer is found to have unlawfully failed to pay the complainant employee, and will order the employer to pay to the Board of County Commissioners an assessment of costs in an amount not to exceed actual administrative processing costs and costs of the hearing. Failure to comply with the order within 45 days will result in the imposition of post-judgment interest until the amount is paid in full on both the restitution ordered and the assessments.

Failure to pay your employees for time they have worked can have costly consequences, and it’s all avoidable. The post-pandemic world will be wrought with employment and contractual litigation, and how business owners handle things at this juncture will affect them for a long time to come.  Now is the time to engage Trembly Law Firm to help you guide your business through this tumultuous time and help you develop a plan to improve the chances of survival of your business and avoid lawsuits in the future.

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