Contact: Ari Weisbard                                                                                                  Deputy Director, Employment Justice Center                          , 202-670-1590

Worker Contact: Emma Cleveland                                                                  Employment Justice Organizer, Employment Justice Center  , 202-802-1334

D.C. Council Posed to Vote on Bill to Prevent Wage Theft on Tuesday

Victims of Wage Theft will Present Play About its Consequences

The D.C. Council is posed to vote on Tuesday, May 6th on the Wage Theft Prevention Act, a bill that strengthens and expands safeguards against wage theft in the District. Before the vote, supporters of the bill and victims of wage theft will meet on the steps of the Wilson Building to present a short play about the effects of stolen wages on families and DC residents. Following the play and a short rally, workers and their allies will attend the Legislative Meeting at the D.C. Council starting at 10am where they will also be available for press interviews.

What: Rally and Vote for the Wage Theft Prevention Act

When: Tuesday May 6th, 2014, Rally at 9am

Where: Steps of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Gregorio Hernandez, a member of the Employment Justice Center’s worker committee and construction worker, was paid less than the rate he was promised and is still owed thousands of dollars. He said, “My five children and I need to pay rent, eat, have medicine, and study. With the Wage Theft Prevention Act, I would have had a chance to have a hearing sooner and I would have already been paid.”

The Wage Theft Prevention Act would overhaul wage and hour enforcement in D.C. by creating formal hearings and increased penalties for employers who fail to pay their employees what they promise or what DC law requires. Passing the bill would be a win both for workers and for honest business owners who are currently at a disadvantage trying to compete with unscrupulous businesses that break the law.

Nikki Lewis, Executive Director of DC Jobs with Justice stated, “I hope to see the D.C Council pass this bill which would create a system for workers to have a voice and a pathway to a just hearing. Weakening the Wage Theft Prevention Act by stripping its protections directly hurts low-wage workers, parents and taxpayers in the District.”

A 2009 survey of more than four thousand low-wage workers in American cities found that on average, each low-wage worker lost $51 per week to wage theft, or $2,634 per year. That amounts to 15% of their annual income. For workers who are often living paycheck to paycheck, wage theft can result in incredibly severe consequences, like large fees for missed payments, high-interest loans, and even foreclosures, evictions, and repossessions.