DC Council Introduces Wage Theft Prevention Act

This morning, Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-Large), Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1), and Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) co-introduced the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2014 at the DC Council legislative session. The bill will dramatically improve the ability of District workers to collect unpaid wages.

EJC organizers and worker activists celebrate the introduction of the Wage Theft Prevention Act!

EJC organizers and worker activists celebrate the introduction of the Wage Theft Prevention Act!

“For low wage earners, wage theft can result in severe consequences like missed payment, but also foreclosures and repossessions,” said Councilmember Orange as he introduced the bill. “But wage theft also hurts our economy. By cheating workers out of wages, employers who commit wage theft rob DC of revenues through tax and payroll fraud, which can depress consumer spending and stunt economic growth.”

EJC worker activists meet with Councilmember Jim Graham to ask for his support in the struggle against wage theft.

EJC worker activists meet with Councilmember Jim Graham to ask for his support in the struggle against wage theft.

“I want to commend the advocates because, once again, we benefit so much from the dedication and tenacity of our advocate community,” added Councilmember Graham. “You brought this issue to us, you brought it forcefully, and you convinced us that we need to act.”

Councilmembers Bowser, Bonds, Mendelson, McDuffie, Evans, and Catania also came forward to cosponsor the bill.

The Wage Theft Prevention Act will strengthen and expand safeguards against wage theft in the District. The bill would combat wage theft by:

  • Establishing formal procedures to enable victims of wage theft to recover unpaid wages and damages;
  • Increasing the penalties for those responsible for committing wage theft;
  • Providing greater protection for workers who stand up for their rights;
  • And making it easier for wage theft victims to get legal representation.

Eugene Thomas was among the EJC worker advocates present for the introduction.  “It was excellent to see how many Councilmembers cosponsored the bill,” he said. “This is the beginning of something very exciting for workers in Washington.”

For more information on wage theft in the District and a complete summary of the bill, stay tuned for the report, Stolen Wages in the Nation’s Capital: Fixing DC’s Broken Wage Theft Claims Process, which will be released by the Employment Justice Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs later this week.