On July 15, Minnesota's governor approved new legislation which now considers some actions by employers to be "wage theft", which can be punishable as felonies. This legislative action is taken in response to an estimated $12 million that Minnesota workers lose each year as a result of "wage theft".
What counts as wage theft?
Specifically included as "wage theft" are the wrongful withholding of pay through underpayments, misclassifying employees, not paying wages by imposing mandatory non-paid breaks, and nonpayment for overtime.
Under the new ruling, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the State Attorney General now have the authority to investigate reported employer wage theft by issuing subpoenas, requiring testimonies and documentation. They now also have the right to enter businesses during regular operating hours so that they may perform these investigations.
In cases where employers are indeed found to have failed to pay wages of up to $1,000, the Department of Labor may issue a citation and the employer must pay the employee the unpaid wages, plus damages, within a 15 day period. Employers that do not comply can be subject to further penalties.