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February 17, 2005

Florida to Offer Wal-Mart Deal to All Wage Violators

The Wal-Mart deal with the DOL is not the only example of the GOP wanting to let minimum wage violators escape any punishment -- essentially letting them rob their employees if they give the money back in the few instances when they get caught.

Last fall, Florida voters overwhelmingly (72%) approved a constitutional amendment increasing the minimum wage by a buck and mandating that any employers breaking the law pay double damages plus legal fees when they violate the law.

Now the Florida GOP state House leaders want to let violators of the law escape those double damages if they give the money back within 15 days of being notified by employees of the intent to sue.

The Florida Republican leaders claim this provision fits within the intent of the Amendment. Since I drafted the damn thing, I think I can say with some authority that their bill completely violates the constitutional amendment. Read the amendment for yourself, but the basic problem with this 15-day notice is the same as the Wal-Mart deal: Employers will have every incentive to violate the law recklessly. Even if they are caught underpaying a few employees, they can simply pay back the wages owed with no fine, while pocketing the profit from underpaying the many workers who will inevitably never challenge the employer’s illegal activity.

But then that's the point of these "notice" provisions-- to gut minimum wage laws and discourage enforcement. These rightwing politicians hate working class people and support corporate criminality. They are soft on crime when the criminals wear a nice three-piece suit.

Posted by Nathan at February 17, 2005 02:40 AM