Minnesota Strengthening Enforcement of New Wage Theft Law
Two Minnesota agencies are increasing their attempts to eliminate wage fraud by adding staff members to enforce a new state law that punishes business owners for taking advantage of their employees.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has employed two attorneys who will supervise cases where employers are accused of defrauding staff out of unpaid earnings.
At the same time, the state Department of Labor and Industry is employing seven new staff members who will solely look into these accusations, after Minnesota passed one of the strictest wage theft laws in the country in 2019.
Wage theft infringements come with penalties that range from $1,000 to $100,000 and prison terms as long as 20 years, depending on the circumstances. It is estimated that more than 30,000 workers in Minnesota are the targets of wage theft annually.
Minnesota is one of only two states that may charge a business with a felony in specific cases.
The law expands notification obligations for employers. They must alert workers of their pay rate, inform them of overtime and wage amounts and let them know when they will be paid. There are new consequences for employers who do not maintain payment records, cooperate with the state when it's inspecting a wage theft claim, or who punish an employee for criticizing their wage.
The industries that are the most common wage theft lawbreakers include agriculture, construction, home care, and hospitality. Soon after the wage theft law went into effect, an assembly of construction workers accused a business of denying their wages on a multi-million dollar project in Rochester in 2018.