Effective January 1, 2016, individuals working in Pinellas County may sue their employer for unpaid wages under a new wage theft ordinance. “Wage theft” is defined as an employer’s failure to pay wages of at least $60 due to an employee for work performed at least 14 days prior. However, if an employer’s regular pay period is longer than 14 days, the wages may be paid accordingly. Pinellas County, located west of Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico, joins other Florida jurisdictions with similar laws, such as Saint Petersburg, Hillsborough County, and Miami-Dade County.
Pinellas County’s wage theft ordinance is designed to make filing a complaint easy in order to protect employees and penalize employers who fail to pay wages. First, to initiate an action, an employee needs only to complete and sign a wage theft complaint provided by the County, and file within one year. From there, the County serves the complaint upon the employer alleged to have withheld wages. The employer has an opportunity to resolve the unpaid wage claim before the County appoints a special magistrate to hear the matter. At the conclusion of any hearing, the special magistrate issues a final order setting forth his or her findings and an assessment of damages.
This client alert is intended to inform clients and other interested parties about legal matters of current interest and is not intended as legal advice.