Allegations of wage theft are serious, and employers accused of such actions may face harsh consequences. This is especially true for employers here in Minnesota, one of only two states where wage theft can be a felony.
The laws and enforcement efforts combating wage theft are only getting more intense. Recently, state lawmakers passed a new law that expands employers’ notification obligations. They have also added more resources to the state Department of Labor and Industry and the Attorney General’s office to enforce the new laws.
New requirements, more responsibilities
The new law, which went into effect on August 1, 2019, requires employers in this state to inform workers in writing of:
- Pay rates
- Overtime eligibility and rate
- Expected pay dates
Employers must also keep thorough records of employees and pay. Those who do not can face penalties, including a fine of up to $5,000 for each violation.
Employers must also comply with investigations into wage theft or face additional consequences. Finally, any employer retaliating against an employee exercising his or her rights regarding pay may be subject to civil penalties.
In some cases, misdemeanor or felony charges may be filed against employers who do not comply with the new laws.
Ramped up enforcement
The laws are not the only element affecting wage theft in Minnesota. State agencies have hired nine new staffers who will reportedly focus primarily on investigating wage-theft claims.
Between the new law and increased enforcement resources, it is more important than ever for employers to comply with proper wage practices. This means informing employees of their pay in writing, keeping records, ensuring employees receive full and fair compensation, and properly categorizing workers.
When laws change, there is often added scrutiny around compliance. There can also be confusion and delays in shifting workplace practices to align with new requirements. As such, it may be more likely for wage theft accusations to arise in the months following the day a new law goes into effect. Employers should be aware of this and revisit and reinforce their efforts to avoid wage theft allegations.