Monday, July 22, 2019

Minneapolis Wants a Piece of the Wage Theft Pie

On the heels of the new Minnesota state wage theft law, which went into effect on July 1st, the Minneapolis City Council has proposed a city wage theft ordinance. The proposed Minneapolis ordinance mirrors the new state law in many respects, but includes some additional requirements. The City’s ordinance would require employers to put all pay agreements in writing and provide regular written or electronic earnings statements to workers. The proposal also includes a streamlined resolution process for wage disputes that does not require an employee to have an attorney and creates a presumption of retaliation if any adverse employment action occurs within 90 days of a wage complaint. A companion proposal brought by the City Council would expand these employee protections to freelance workers, such as independent contractors and ride-share drivers.

Minneapolis City Council members and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey have advocated that a city ordinance would complement the new state law and provide additional enforcement support at the local level, but many local business leaders are less enthusiastic. In a letter sent to the Mayor, a coalition of business leaders asked the City to hit pause on the wage theft initiative, arguing that the City has not allowed enough time for the state law to take hold to see if anything local is warranted. The business leaders also pushed back on the additional paperwork and administrative burdens posed by the City’s proposed ordinance. City Council Members have responded to the request by saying that there are no plans to back away from the City’s initiative.

Only time will tell if the City will, in fact, follow through with the local ordinance and if its efforts will be as successful as the sick and safe leave and $15 minimum wage ordinances enacted in recent years. Public hearings and other public input opportunities are expected later this year.

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