Act to Prevent Wage Theft, Promote Employer Accountability, and Enhance Public Enforcement

S1066/H1610: Act to Prevent Wage Theft, Promote Employer Accountability, and Enhance Public Enforcement
Lead Sponsors: Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Dan Donahue
Wage theft has become business-as-usual. In our modern economy, where employers increasingly subcontract or outsource core parts of their business to other companies, the epidemic of wage theft has overwhelmed the capacity of our existing labor laws and enforcement mechanisms.  Nearly $700 million in wages are stolen from about 350,000 low-wage workers each year in Massachusetts. This legislation will protect workers and enhance enforcement in several important ways: (1) Increased Employer Accountability: Holds lead contractors accountable for the wage theft violations of their subcontractors, as long as there is a significant connection to their business activities or operations; (2) Enhanced Public Enforcement: Allows the Attorney General’s Office to bring civil wage theft cases directly to court, and allows for aggrieved employees or other whistleblowers to bring public enforcement actions on behalf of, and supervised by, the Attorney General’s Office. (3) Ensuring Timely Payment: Allows the Attorney General’s Office to issue a “stop work order” if it has determined that certain types of wage theft or unemployment insurance violations have occurred. Provides employers an opportunity to correct violations and resume work, or to request a hearing.
An Act to Prevent Wage Theft has been proposed by the Coalition to Stop Wage Theft – comprised of unions, worker centers, community organizations, and legal advocates who are immersed in the pervasive problem of wage theft that cheats workers out of hard-earned wages, hurts honest businesses, and deprives the Commonwealth of needed revenue. Collectively, we have advocated for thousands of workers who have had their wages stolen.