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Wage Theft Program

At this time, all wage theft complaints must be filed with the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.

Complaints may be filed electronically or call 727-464-4172



St. Petersburg City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting "Wage Theft" in the city, effective April 16, 2015, governed by Article III, Chapter 15 of the St. Petersburg Municipal Code. The city began processing complaints in September 2015.

The Wage Theft Ordinance aims to eliminate underpayment or nonpayment of wages, unfair economic competition by "unscrupulous businesses," and relieve the public burden of subsidizing employees of such businesses.

The Wage Theft Ordinance applies to all private employees (not independent contractors) performing work within St. Petersburg city limits, regardless of the employer’s physical location. An employer commits wage theft when the employer fails to pay wages, or a portion of wages, due to an employee according to the wage rate and other laws applicable to that employee within a reasonable time from the date on which that employee performed the work for which those wages were compensation. 

If a hearing examiner appointed by the city of St. Petersburg finds that the employer failed to pay wages, or a portion of wages, such violation shall entitle an employee to receive back wages in addition to liquidated damages and reasonable costs and attorney's fees from that employer as stated in the hearing officer's order.

Amendments

On December 15, 2016, City Council passed a number of amendments to the Wage Theft Ordinance which include two new requirements for employers:

(1)    At the time of hiring, an employer shall provide to each employee the following written notice, to be signed and dated by the employer and employee:

• Employee Pay Notice

wage theft 11x17 - FINAL no crop marks(2)  Employers must place in a location accessible to all employees a poster, available from the City, summarizing the protections and rights of employees pursuant to this article:

• Mandatory Poster

Complaint Process

Once a completed affidavit has been received, the city will attempt to serve the employer notice of the complaint via certified mail. This notice allows the employer to respond to the claim within 21 days of receipt. You also have the option of retaining the services of a court-appointed process server to ensure delivery of notice, if certified mail sent by the Wage Theft Program is undeliverable. 

Conciliatory Process

It is the policy of the City to encourage conciliation of complaints. After the complaint is filed, our office will coordinate a conciliation process to attempt to resolve the complaint by agreement of both parties. 

Administrative Hearing Process

If we are unable to resolve your dispute through the conciliatory process or the employer does not respond within the 21 days and the Wage Theft Program has confirmation of receipt of the notice, either through U.S. Postal Service or process server, we will schedule the case for the next available hearing date.

At the time of the hearing, both the claimant and the employer will have the opportunity to present their cases. If the Hearing Officer determines that a wage violation has occurred, he or she may order the employer to pay liquidated damages to the claimant of up to three times the amount of wages claimed, as well as payment of administrative costs associated with conducting the hearing to the city payable to the City of St. Petersburg.

Final Orders will be sent to all parties. A prevailing claimant may record a final order or seek post-judgment release through the Pinellas County Court System. At this stage, the city’s administrative responsibilities have been fulfilled and the file will be closed.

Recording a Final Order

What to Expect at the Wage Theft Hearing

Time of Hearing

Make sure you arrive on time to your hearing. If you are the employee and you are not present when your case is called, your case will be dismissed. If you are the employer, your case will be heard if you are not present. If neither party is present the case will be dismissed.

Representation of Case

  • You are responsible for presenting your case. The City of St. Petersburg’s only role in the administrative hearing is to process the complaint. The City cannot present evidence, elicit testimony, or assist you in proving your case in any way. 
  • The administrative hearing will be conducted in English. Therefore, if you need the services of a translator you must bring your own. 
  • The hearing will be conducted in a quasi-judicial manner and will be heard by a Hearing Examiner. 
  • You have the right to be represented by an attorney licensed by the State of Florida at the administrative hearing. 
  • You may also be represented by a non-attorney if the Hearing Examiner does not disqualify your advocate for good cause. If you will not be attending the administrative hearing your non-attorney advocate must have a power of attorney signed by you that is notarized. 

Presentation of Evidence

The employee has the burden of proving her/his case by a preponderance of the evidence. If the employee meets this burden by providing the requisite amount of evidence in the form of testimony or documentation, then the burden will shift to the employer to refute the allegations made. 

You must provide an explanation of the circumstances of the violation, including: 
  • The date or dates (month/day/year ) the alleged violation occurred; and
  • The dollar amount of unpaid wages including how the wages were calculated: 
    • Hours worked each day (or part of day) multiplied by the employee’s hourly or daily Wage Rate. 
    • For piece work, the number of pieces completed multiplied by the Wage Rate per piece. 

Bring copies of all evidence and documentation you plan to present at the hearing for the Hearing Examiner. Examples of evidence and supporting documentation include, but are not limited to: 
      • A copy of any demand letter the employee may have sent to the employer for payment of unpaid wages; 
      • A copy of employee’s paycheck(s) (front and back); 
      • Check stubs or payroll vouchers; 
      • A copy of any agreements that were entered into and signed by the employee and the employer; 
      • A written, notarized statement, with name and address, from fellow employee(s) who could substantiate the complaint; 
      • A copy of employee’s work schedules, time sheets, or any other documentation verifying the number of hours/days worked or pieces completed; 
      • A copy of the employee’s W-2 form from the employer; 
      • Any records maintained by the employee of hours/days worked or pieces completed and wages paid; 
      • If the claim involves a verbal agreement, the employee should provide a thorough written statement detailing the terms of the agreement. 
  • In addition, either party may bring any evidence or supporting documentation that you feel may assist the Hearing Examiner in reaching a decision. 
  • Both parties have the right to subpoena witnesses if you submit the subpoena to the Hearing Examiner to be issued. 
    • All persons who testify as to facts will be placed under oath. 
    • Any and all witnesses you bring to testify on your behalf will be subject to cross-examination by the opposing party.

Conclusion of Hearing

At the end of the hearing, the Hearing Examiner will determine if a wage theft violation has occurred. If there is a finding of wage theft, he or she will order the employer to pay wage restitution to the employee in an amount equal to three (3) times back wages. If the employer is found to have committed a wage theft, then they are responsible for paying back wages, as well as actual administrative and processing costs to the City of St. Petersburg. 

Please note: The city cannot provide any legal advice, nor provide recommendations or referrals to private counsel.

 

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