The Palm Beach County Commission will listen to requests Tuesday on whether to postpone hearings on a proposed countywide wage theft ordinance until Aug. 16 or for one full year. The latter option would allow the state Legislature another session to pass a bill limiting local anti-wage theft rules, as it tried to do this year.
PEACE, a religious coalition from Palm Beach county that supports the wage theft ordinance, said in a press release issued Monday that the first request is a staff-recommended motion that originated from the organization to postpone the public hearing on the local wage theft ordinance to Aug. 16. (Read the full press release below.)
The release adds that the second request is a Business Forum proposal to delay any consideration of the ordinance for a full year, a measure that would allow “the Florida Retail Federation another chance to have the state consider a bill that would pre-empt local Wage Theft Ordinances.”
The Business Forum “was established in 2004 to bring business leaders from Palm Beach County together to exchange information and ideas, to promote collaboration on public policy issues and to act collectively as the voice of business on issues of countywide significance.”
Earlier this year, state Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, proposed a bill that would do away with a Miami-Dade ordinance passed in 2010 that prevents employers from cheating workers out of wages they are owed. The bill, which did not pass, was supported by the Florida Retail Federation and Florida’s Associated Builders and Contractors.
A letter sent to Palm Beach County commissioners reiterates that PEACE “recently requested that staff recommend postponing the date of the public hearing on the Ordinance to August 16th, given that there will be a hearing on the constitutional challenge to the Miami-Dade Wage Theft Ordinance on July 21st.”
The letter adds that Mike Jones of the Business Forum requested the county commission delay any consideration of such an ordinance for a full year, a request Jones failed to raise during a comprehensive hour-long meeting on June 6.
Late last year, the Florida Retail Federation filed a legal challenge to Miami-Dade County’s wage theft ordinance — alleging it is burdensome to business, increases the cost of doing business, and duplicates existing federal and state law.
The June 16 letter (.pdf) sent by the Business Forum to Palm Beach County commissioners states: “Our research has shown that existing Federal and State statutes create a comprehensive and integrated framework of protection that provides first-dollar coverage for wage claims. This fact would seem to eliminate any need or desirability for a duplicative regulation.”
Jeannette Smith, who supports existing and proposed wage theft ordinances, told the Independent that the Miami-Dade ordinance “does not establish a new regulation but simply sets up an accessible process to address local wage theft cases that do not fall under the jurisdiction of existing federal laws. It’s the most basic of agreements — people complete their work and should be paid for that work.”
wage theft press release 6-20-11
PEACE letter to PB County Commission