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Bill Signing to Protect Workers and Prevent Wage Theft

Touting its status as the toughest law in the nation, Governor Tim Walz ceremonially signed into law a measure that increases protections for employees and makes wage theft a felony in Minnesota. The event was held in the Governor's Reception Room at the Capitol Monday, July 15. The landmark legislation was crafted through bipartisan efforts of lawmakers, labor advocates, Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink and Attorney General Keith Ellison, all in attendance at the bill signing. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry estimates that Minnesota workers are deprived of up to $12 million dollars each year in stolen wages. Wage theft is accomplished in a variety of ways, such as violating minimum-wage laws, failing to pay overtime, misclassification of employees as independent contractors, forcing people to work "off the clock" or simply not paying an employee at all. Governor Walz said the legislation, with the help of the Attorney General's office, will ensure "people are treated fairly, the law is followed and we also have a level playing field for the ethical employers who are doing the right things but are put at a disadvantage when bad actors come in." Chair of the Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said the root of the new law emerged from a shared agreement of the premise 'If you earn a wage, you should be paid a wage.' "It’s that simple," he said. "And if you’re stealing somebody's wages, if you're attempting to defraud somebody, you should pay a penalty."

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