To the Editor,
There are 2 bills in the CT legislature labor committee that deserve our attention and action. The bills are S.B.914, An Act Concerning an Employer’s Failure to Pay Wages and S.B. 1037, An Act concerning Employee Liens Against Employers for Unpaid Wages.
The problem of unpaid or underpaid wages is happening under our eyes and we are not aware of it. Many restaurants in the New Haven area underpay or don’t pay their workers and this amounts to slavery.
An example is that of Marvin Mendoza who worked at Off the Hook, a seafood restaurant with locations in Westbrook, Stratford and Milford. For nearly a year the restaurant owner Andrew Testo paid Mr. Mendoza $3 per hour and some weeks he did not pay him at all. On several occasions Mr. Testo burst into the kitchen smashing dishes and threatening the staff. Mr. Mendoza was subsequently fired for requesting the wages he was owed. Mr. Mendoza has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking unpaid wages and damages but months have gone by and he has not seen once cent and the employer has faced no consequences.
Last year the Connecticut Department of Labor recovered $6.5 million in unpaid wages for workers who were cheated. This does not include all the workers who did not complain.
Wage theft is our problem also. When businesses steal wages they are also robbing the sate of our tax revenues, creating unfair competition for law abiding businesses and driving down wages for everyone.
Failing to pass these bills gives great shelter to those who are dishonest, unethical and unscrupulous.
Bill 914: To allow employees to recover twice the full amount of damages associated with an employer’s failure to pay wages unless the employer can demonstrate a good faith belief that it is complying with the law
Bill 1037: When an employer fails to pay wages the Labor Commissioner can place a lien on any property, real or persona,l to enforce payment of twice the full amount of the wages with cost of attorneys’ fees.
Please contact the Connecticut Labor Committee and your state congressmen about these wage theft bills that affect all of us