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County Commission passes wage-theft ordinance Tuesday

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Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:45 am

The Alachua County Commission passed the wage recovery ordinance during a special meeting Tuesday night.

The ordinance, which has been in the works since January, passed 3-2 with Commissioners Lee Pinkoson and Susan Baird in dissent. It will officially take effect Jan. 1 and will set a county program in place to help residents resolve disputes with employers about unpaid wages.

The ordinance offers positive features for employees and employers, said Alex Cordelle, a member of the Alachua County Wage Theft Task Force.

The 180-day deadline for filing claims protects businesses from what Cordelle called ghost employees bringing up issues from years past.

Businesses won’t be punished if they are found to owe wages, he said. They will only be required to repay the wages owed. Cordelle added that the ordinance will be helpful for local college students.

“When you go up to college, you might not know what resources you have to protect you against unscrupulous employers taking your hard-earned wages,” he said.

However, Pinkoson disagreed about the new policy’s effectiveness. He said the process was rushed and believed the finalized ordinance didn’t offer a satisfactory solution.

“Unfortunately, in my opinion, this was driven by an artificial timeline,” he said. “We are only as good as the information we are furnished. I think that there is a better solution out there.”

Baird said the best method to address wage theft is for employees to quit and find work with fairer employers. She said the Commission should focus on bringing more jobs to the county.

“The best solution is options,” she said.

Contact Kelcee Griffis at kgriffis@alligator.org.

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