Employees have the right to get paid what they are lawfully owed. If you believe you may have been the victim of wage theft in Pinellas County, all is not lost. You can take action to protect your rights and pursue what you are owed.
Laws are on the books that protect workers from wage theft and serve to hold employers accountable when they break the law.
Pinellas County Wage Theft Laws
In January 2016, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners passed the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance. This ordinance provides a process for employees to seek the recovery of unpaid wages due to wage theft. Article IV of the ordinance includes detailed information, including its intents and purpose, authority, and definitions of related legal terms, among other types of important information.
The process is administered by the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.
Examples of Wage Theft in the Workplace
Wage theft in Pinellas County can occur in multiple ways. However, there are some actions that employers take that are more frequent than others. One of the most common examples of wage theft in the workplace is for an employer not to pay employees overtime pay.
Individuals who qualify for overtime and work more than 40 hours in one week should get paid time-and-a-half for each of those hours over 40. Unpaid wages can add up over time and leave employees without a significant amount of money they are required to receive under the law.
Another example of wage theft is making employees work through their breaks and lunches. If you are off the clock, employers should not have you working – or they should face the consequences. Unfortunately, many employers will try to bully or threaten employees to keep them from complaining.
Wage theft attorneys are on your side – not the employer’s – helping employees across the county fight for the wages that have been taken from them.
Benefits of Hiring a Wage Theft Attorney
When you hire a wage theft attorney, you have a legal advocate with the necessary skills to stand up to powerful employers that break the law. They understand the complexity of the processes and how to construct a strong case. A wage theft attorney has experience in confronting and dealing with bosses that harass and take actions that negatively impact the lives of employees and their families.
Working with a wage theft attorney gives workers in Pinellas County the resources and support to get the best outcome possible.
What to Do If You’re A Victim
If you have been a victim of wage theft, a complaint needs to be filed with the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights. Several documents need to be included in the complaint, such as, but not limited to:
- Witness information
- Copies of paychecks and stubs
- Copies of communications
Frequently Asked Questions
Workers often have many questions regarding filing claims and any restrictions or rules on Pinellas County wage theft.
What is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is the underpayment or non-payment of wages to employees by employers, which can include sick and vacation pay and other types of paid time off. Additional examples of wage theft are paying less than minimum wage and taking tips.
Who can file a claim of wage theft in Pinellas County?
Under the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance parameters, employees who work for covered employers in the geographic boundaries of Pinellas County can file a claim of wage theft. It does not include state or federal employees or those that work as a bona fide independent contractor. Additionally, if an employee performs work outside of Pinellas County, but the work benefits an employer who is inside the county’s geographic boundaries, they may file a claim.
Can a complaint of wage theft be filed anonymously?
No. Your information must be included in the complaint, and you need to be involved in the process. Your employer will also be contacted for a resolution to the case, so they will know the complaint was filed, which is another benefit of having an attorney. Your attorney can take the lead in pursuing a resolution for the case, working aggressively to protect your rights.
What happens after a wage theft claim is filed?
The Pinellas County Office of Human Rights will launch a conciliation process intended to get a written agreement approved by both parties to resolve the case. If an agreement is not made within 30 days, a hearing will be set with a court-appointed Special Magistrate. If you work with a wage theft attorney, they can represent you in the conciliation process and at the court hearing, if needed.
Is there a statute of limitations for wage theft?
Yes. A signed complaint with supporting documentation must be filed no later than one (1) year after the last date upon which the employee performed the work for an employer.
What if I am fired for filing a claim of wage theft?
If you are fired for filing a claim of wage theft, you may have a case of wrongful termination, which could entitle you to compensation in addition to receiving the lawful wages you are due. With a Pinellas County wage theft attorney as your advocate, you will have a strong, experienced professional on your side who understands what it takes to hold employers accountable for wrongful termination and wage theft.
You have a right not to be retaliated against and to get any lawful wages owed to you from your employer. Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. for a free consultation. We are dedicated to helping the people of Pinellas County and are with you each step of the process.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.