On Wednesday, June 24, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed into law Senate Bill 914, a measure that will allow victims of wage theft to collect double the amount due them. “This is going to mean the transfer of millions of dollars each year from cheating employers to low-wage workers,”said James Bhandary-Alexander, a lawyer for New Haven Legal Assistance who represents victims of wage theft.
Even though the law is intended to alleviate a number of gaping holes in Connecticut state law that allow bosses to get away with stealing workers’wages, it is only a modest step in providing workers with fair compensation. CoFiA’s wage theft committee receives a constant stream of complaints from workers who have been cheated of their pay. Like Connecticut, New Jersey has been unwilling to pass and enforce laws with real teeth to deter unscrupulous employers from promising wages that they never pay. Many employers consider the rare case in which they are forced to make restitution just a small cost of doing business.
Bhandary-Alexander says, “This isn’t just a legal problem. It’s a political problem and a cultural problem too.” What is needed most is strong support from the public for laws that effectively prevent the theft in the first place.
Adapated from “Connecticut Just Passed a Law Requiring Bosses Who Steal Workers’ Wages to Pay Them Back Double,” by Ava Tomasula y Garcia, In These Times, June 25, 2015.