On April 15th, Senator DiDomenico joined with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and labor leaders from across the Greater Boston Area to take part in Boston Tax Fraud Day of Action. Together, they called for urgent action on legislation to crack down on the rampant epidemic of wage theft here in Massachusetts. Senator DiDomenico is the lead sponsor of S.1179, An Act to prevent wage theft, promote employer accountability, and enhance public enforcement, which would give the state greater power to go after corrupt employers and provide additional tools for the Attorney General’s Office to hold violators fully accountable.
”Each year that goes by without action on this bill means that more and more workers—many of whom are immigrants—fall victim to wage theft and thousands of dollars are stolen from our economy,” said Senator DiDomenico, speaking at the rally. “Wage theft takes many different forms, but they all have the common denominator of hurting hard working men and women and our tax payers. Enough is enough. We must take action by passing S.1179 to crack down on corrupt employers and ensure our workers get the pay they rightfully deserve.”
Wage theft- the illegal practice of not paying employees for all of their work– has become a pervasive problem throughout the Massachusetts economy. One of the most prevalent of these practices is payroll fraud, via misclassifying employees as independent contractors or paying workers “off-the-books” in cash-only arrangements. As a result, some employers avoid paying taxes and into critical safety nets for workers– like unemployment insurance, workers compensation, Social Security and Medicare benefits–putting an unfair burden on Massachusetts tax payers and the Commonwealth when employees have a legitimate right to utilize these programs. Wage theft also hurts legitimate businesses by putting law-abiding companies at a competitive disadvantage when they lose contracts to companies that charge less for their work by cheating their workers out of their pay.
To increase accountability in labor contracting and subcontracting, the bill holds lead contractors accountable for the wage theft violations of their subcontractors if there is a significant connection to their business activities or operations and enhances the enforcement power of the Attorney General’s Office by allowing it to bring wage theft cases directly to civil court. The Attorney General would also gain the ability to issue a stop work order in response to a wage theft violation.
To protect employees affected by a stop work order, the bill requires that employees be paid for the period that the stop work order is in effect or the first 10 days the employee was scheduled to work had the stop order not been issued.
The Massachusetts Senate has twice passed Senator DiDomenico’s wage theft bill during previous legislative sessions with nearly unanimous and bipartisan support. Today, the bill is currently pending before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce development where is awaits a favorable report.