Mayor Walsh announces additional steps to protect workers from wage theft
September 17, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced additional protections for workers employed by businesses that have been issued a food and/or liquor license.
Building on the Wage Theft Executive Order the Mayor signed in October 2014, the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development has worked closely with the Boston Licensing Board and beginning this week, all new and renewing food or liquor licensees will be required to complete a CM Form 16, which licensees must sign, under the penalties of perjury, that they will comply of said order.
"It's illegal to deny fairly earned wages, and we must do more to protect our workers from this practice," said Mayor Walsh. "By working with the Licensing Board, we are creating another tool to hold employers accountable and empower workers."
Instances of wage theft among licensees will be reported to the Office of Workforce Development and referred to the Boston Licensing Board. The Boston Licensing Board will determine if the complaint warrants a hearing and any disciplinary action.
"We are thrilled that Mayor Walsh is taking bold action to ensure workers are guaranteed an honest day's pay for an honest day's work," said Darlene Lombos, Executive Director of Community Labor United. "We join him in sending a message to those unscrupulous employers who cheat workers that they can no longer undercut responsible businesses that play by the rules."
On October 23, 2014, Mayor Walsh signed an executive order establishing disclosure and payroll certification requirements for vendors contracting business with the City of Boston. The purpose of this directive was to combat wage theft, the unlawful nonpayment of wages in accordance with state and federal wage and hour laws. The executive order also provides that those vendors with prior violations may be required to post a wage bond in the amount equal to the sum of one year's gross wages for all employees. The executive order became effective on January 1, 2015.
In recent years, wage theft has had an increasingly detrimental impact on local, state, and national economies. The results of recent wage theft investigations have been alarming:
- A 2009 investigation into NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles found that two-thirds of low-wage workers in those cities experienced a wage violation in any given week. Wage violations cost workers in more than $56.4 million weekly (or almost $3 billion annually) in those three cities alone.
- In 2012, the U.S Department of Labor found that 34 Boston-area restaurants owed nearly $1.3 million in back pay to almost 500 employees.
- A study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2012 only $1 billion was recovered for wage theft violations. (This number includes state and federal administrative actions and private civil litigation).
- The MA Attorney General's office has resolved several cases in recent months alleging $100,000+ in wage violations.