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Brown introduces legislation to combat wage theft

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced legislation into the Senate on Wednesday that he says will protect for working families by cracking down on wage theft.

Brown said the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would give workers the right to receive full compensation for all work they perform, as well as the right to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner.

“American workers know they’re working more than ever, but they’re getting paid less,” Brown said in a news conference with reporters on Wednesday.

He said the legislation, sponsored with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, would also provide workers with improved tools to recover stolen wages and make assistance available to build community partnerships that enhance the enforcement of and compliance with wage and hour laws.

“When bosses don’t pay their workers what they’re owed, it robs them of money they earned for their hard work and hurts businesses that play by the rules,” Brown said. “It’s shameful that employers are reaching into the pockets of low-income workers who have bills to pay and families to feed. We must create a system where employers who steal wages are held accountable and workers have the tools they need to recover their wages when they’ve been cheated.”

Brown said low-wage industry workers, such as food service are at the greatest risk of wage theft. He said another way employers are cheating workers is by classifying employees as independent contractors.

Brown said the problem of wage theft has not gotten any better as the economy has improved, and that his legislation will create new civil penalties for employers who engage in wage theft.

“It’s already illegal, but we want workers to be able to come forward and be protected when they speak out,” he said.