Testimony of Howard Mayo, DOES Budget Hearing
On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Howard Mayo testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs about his experiences with wage theft and asked the DC Council to hold the Office of Wage-Hour accountable for enforcing protections against wage theft. Watch Howard and learn what we need to do to fight wage theft. Whether or not you were able to attend, please email Marion Barry today to tell him you support these workers.
Click here for more pictures and a recap of the wage theft action.
(Download Silverlight to view DC Council videos.)
Below is the text of his testimony:
Good morning Chairman Barry, councilmembers, residents and attendees.
My name is Howard Mayo and I am a native Washingtonian.
I am a volunteer with the DC Employment Justice Center.
I am a retired buyer and contracting officer with almost 30 years at the university level.
Most recently, I’ve worked for a regional water commission in their department designated to ensure local and minority business participation with a major focus on prompt payments to those businesses.
I have personal experience with this issue before the city council. During the late 1970’s my wife and I filed an EEOC law suit against a quasi-government agency for “wage disparity.” This ordeal was extremely expensive, emotionally draining and took years.
Now, one of my daughter’s has experienced “wage theft.” This cycle must end.
“Wage theft” has a rippling effect. The first victim of wage theft is the employee, then their creditors, then the neighborhood stores, the loss of dc sales tax and income tax revenue and then overburdened health & human service agencies the worker is eventually forced to apply for. We are all victims of wage theft. D.C. tax payers pick up the tab for employers engaged in the practice of “wage theft.”
A prime example of the problem is the Office of Wage-Hour. The director has previously testified that this office is understaffed based on the number of complaints received. To hire additional staff cost DC tax dollars.
I offer a remedy, some of which can be incorporated into today’s budget with more comprehensive reforms to follow:
First, for the sake of being business friendly, businesses must be made aware of this serious problem. DOES should issue quarterly emails or other forms of notification to all businesses doing business in the District of Columbia apprising them of the problem and the penalties of “wage theft.”
Second, the Office of Wage-Hour must have the authority to assess and collect wages, interest and additional monies due to damages. A fine should be automatically assessed every thirty days until the employer has paid the Office of Wage-Hour everything that is owed.
An automatic fine would act as an incentive for the employer to respond immediately to the Office of Wage-Hour inquiries and pay workers without delay. An automatic fine would also serve as a future deterrent. Much like the speed cameras, which have provided an additional revenue stream for the DC budget, this would serve as a revenue stream to hire needed Office of Wage-Hour staff without shifting the burden to the DC tax payer.
Third, in the future, the Office of Wage-Hour must have the authority to suspend or revoke business licenses if the Office of Wage-Hour identifies a pattern of chronic wage theft.
The Office of Wage-Hour must have this greater authority. After weeks, or months, of delay for the worker to later be advised by the Office of Wage-Hour that they have not found a solution to their case, and to look to the court for a remedy when the worker may already be unemployed and short of funds adds to their frustration and place an unfair financial burden on the already victimized worker.
Chairman Barry, I thank you for your many years of service to this city and this opportunity to suggest a revenue stream to fund the Office of Wage-Hour.