Scott Introduces Bill to Protect Workers from Widespread Wage Theft
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced H.R. 4376 the Pay Stub Transparency Act – legislation to protect American workers from the rampant problem of wage theft.
“Wage theft is all too common, especially among low-wage workers,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott. “Given the prevalence of this problem, we must work to ensure that hardworking Americans have the tools necessary to fight back against the injustice of wage theft. This legislation would do just that.”
In 2012, victims of wage theft recovered $933 million in stolen wages through complaints filed with federal, state, or local agencies or through private litigation, according to the Economic Policy Institute. But this staggering figure represents only a fraction of the total amount of stolen wages every year, which is estimated to be as much as $50 billion nationally.
The Pay Stub Transparency Act will:
· Provide a uniform federal pay stub requirement, which will be much easier for employers that operate in multiple states to comply with than the current patchwork of varying state laws;
· Require employers to provide information to employees who are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements, with their paychecks that explain how their wages are calculated, including whether they were paid overtime;
· Give employees the right to inspect their employers’ pay records;
· Provide a private right of action and financial remedy to employees whose rights to a pay stub or records inspection are violated;
· Codify the legal presumption that if an employer fails to keep records of an employee’s pay, the employee’s own credible evidence and testimony about his or her pay is presumed to be true.
A study commissioned by the Department of Labor in 2014 estimated that there were over 600,000 weekly minimum wage violations in California and New York, representing 3.5 and 6.5 percent of covered, non-exempt jobs in those states respectively. These violations added up to $28.7 million in weekly lost income for California’s workers and $20.1 million in weekly lost income for New York’s workers. On top of that, employers’ routine failure to provide pay stubs makes it extremely difficult to identify and prosecute these egregious wage violations.
Despite laws in a majority of states requiring that employers provide some form of pay stubs to their workers, many workers never receive them. In California, Illinois, and New York, employers are required to provide pay stubs. Yet the groundbreaking study from 2009 – Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers – found that 57 percent of workers surveyed did not receive them in the previous workweek. There is no federal law that requires employers to provide pay stubs. The Pay Stub Transparency Act will help to remedy this practice that leave workers vulnerable to wage theft.
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