A bill that would outlaw new “wage theft” ordinances—similar to the one in Miami-Dade County—passed the Florida House on a partyline vote Thursday.
The bill, HB 1125, would force victims of wage theft to take their case to civil court, after giving their employer a “demand letter,” allowing them 15 days to pay the disputed amount. Local programs set up to deal with the wage disputes in a non-court setting would be banned, if the bill goes into effect. Though it passed the House on a 71-45 vote, it has stalled in the Senate.
Opponents have blasted HB 1125 as a “Tallahassee power grab” that protects big corporations and business owners who withhold wages from their workers.
"I have had a number of family members and members of my community who have worked on the job and not been paid,” said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who represents Little Havana. ““I don’t see any justification for both cutting down people’s rights and also making it more difficult for local governments to help their own people.”
Proponents called it a way to create a statewide solution to the problem of wage theft.
The bill, HB 1125, is the latest in a multiyear attempt by the business lobby to outlaw local laws that govern the act of “wage theft,” or employers refusing to pay employees. The push has failed in previous years, and a judge upheld Miami-Dade’s program last year.