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Wage Theft Program
The purpose of the Miami-Dade County Wage Theft Ordinance is to eliminate the underpayment and nonpayment of wages earned by employees working in Miami-Dade County. This Ordinance promotes economic security and dignity. It also helps to prevent unfair economic competition by unscrupulous businesses that do not pay or underpay their employees to lower their operating cost, and relieves the burden on customers who support unscrupulous businesses whose employees are forced to rely on government assistance because they are not earning enough income due to unpaid or underpaid wages.
The Wage Theft Ordinance applies to all private employers with employees who are performing work within the Miami-Dade County boundaries, without any regard to the physical location of the employer. Also, as with state and federal wage and hourly laws, individuals may be liable under the Ordinance, if they were capable of exercising supervisory authority over the complainant and were responsible to some degree for the alleged violation.
Any employer who fails to pay any portion of wages due to an employee according to the wage rate applicable to that employee, and within a reasonable time from the date on which that employee performed the work for which those wages were compensation, shall be wage theft under this Ordinance.
Approved by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, this Ordinance became effective February 28, 2010, and it’s governed by the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Amendment and Charter, including among others, sections 1.01 and 2.02 and Chapter 22 of the Miami-Dade County Code.
Filing a Wage Theft Complaint
In order to process your claim, you must complete the Wage Theft Affidavit. You may also request the form by calling the Consumer Protection Mediation Center at 786-469-2333.
Under this program, your claim must meet the following minimum criteria:
- Work must have been performed in Miami-Dade County;
- Amount owed must be at least $60 and no more that $15,000;
- Individual must be or have been an employee of the business; and
- The final day of work that is included in your complaint must be within the previous 12 months. i.e. If the last day you worked was April 12, 2017, you have until April 12, 2018 to submit a wage theft complaint. However, the start of the nonpayment period can be greater than 12 months, as long as it’s within the State’s two year statute of limitations.
- For example:
(Scenario A) John worked for the ABC store from Feb 1, 2015 to April 12, 2018, and nonpayment began on May 8, 2017. John can file a claim because his last day worked before he quit was been less than one year since nonpayment began.
(Scenario B) John worked for the ABC store from Feb 1, 2015 to April 12, 2018, and nonpayment began on January 15, 2017. John quit his job on Feb 20, 2017. John cannot file a wage theft claim with this office because it has been more than one year since the last day he worked. John may have other options to retrieve his wages, but he will not qualify for assistance through this specific program.
- For example:
See the Wage Theft Program Frequently Asked Questions for further eligibility criteria.
If your claim meets the criteria listed above, please submit your signed and dated Wage Theft Complaint Affidavit to the Miami-Dade County Office of Consumer Protection:
- By mail: Miami-Dade County Office of Consumer Protection, 601 NW 1st Court, 18th Floor, Miami, FL 33136
- By fax: 786-469-2303
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attach to your Affidavit copies of any and all documents that show that you were an employee of the business and support your claim, such as check stubs, W-2's, cancelled paychecks, timesheets, time cards/slips and employment agreements/contracts.
Please note: Your Wage Theft Affidavit must be signed and dated. Instead of an original signature (whether or not reproduced by electronic means), you may e-sign your Affidavit using electronic or digital signature software or a smartphone application with the same capability; or e-sign using the standard format accepted by the Florida Supreme Court for e-signature by attorneys and parties: /s/ John Doe or s/ John Doe.
Unsigned or otherwise incomplete Wage Theft Affidavits will not be processed and will be returned for completion.
Once a complaint affidavit has been received by the Consumer Protection Mediation Center, a complaint file is opened and an investigative analyst is assigned. The assigned analyst will first review the affidavit to determine whether it meets the minimum criteria discussed above. Upon making that determination, a formal notification of the complaint (including a copy of the Wage Theft Complaint Affidavit) will be sent to the respondent employer via certified mail. This formal notification allows the employer to respond to the claim within 20 days of receipt. If the formal notification sent via certified mail is undeliverable or unclaimed, the case cannot proceed. At that point you have the option of retaining the services of the Miami-Dade County Sheriff's Office or a certified process server to attempt delivery (also known as "service of process") of the formal notification and copy of the complaint affidavit.
Please note: Mediation Center staff remain neutral throughout the process and have no authority to determine the validity of a wage theft claim.
In most instances, once the formal notification is received by the business, they will contact the Mediation Center analyst assigned to the case to discuss our process and the content of the complaint. At this point our process requires that we encourage both parties to attempt to conciliate a resolution to the claim. The business may request additional time to respond to the allegations in the complaint as they are entitled to 20 days under the Ordinance.
Conciliation is an alternative out-of-court dispute resolution mechanism. Conciliation is a voluntary and flexible process where the parties seek to reach an amicable dispute settlement with the assistance of the assigned analyst, who is also a certified mediator, who acts as a neutral third party. It allows parties to decide how to proceed, can be done over the telephone, thru the exchange of documents electronically or a face-to-face session can be scheduled at the Consumer Protection Mediation Center. Parties are able to resolve their dispute and they may decide to enter into a conciliation agreement to formalize the terms. In the event that no agreement is achieved, nothing said or done in the course of conciliation may be used in any subsequent proceeding under the Ordinance without the parties' consent.
Administrative Hearing Process
If we are unable to resolve your dispute through the conciliatory process or the employer does not respond within the 21 days and the Consumer Protection Mediation Center has confirmation of receipt of the wage theft notice, either through U.S. Postal Service or process server, we will schedule the case for the next available hearing date.
The hearing is the only opportunity for both the claimant and respondent to present their case before the Hearing Examiner. You must bring with you to the hearing any and all evidence showing you were an employee of the business and supporting your claim, including, but not limited to, documents (including text messages, emails, and photographs) and witnesses. If the Hearing Officer determines that a wage violation has occurred, he or she may order the employer to pay liquidated damages to the claimant of three times the amount of wages claimed, as well as payment of administrative costs associated with conducting the hearing to the County payable to the Miami-Dade County–CP.
Final Orders will be sent to all parties. A prevailing claimant may record a final order or seek post-judgment relief through the Miami-Dade Civil Court System. At this stage, the County’s administrative responsibilities have been fulfilled and the file will be closed.
What to Expect at the Wage Theft Hearing
- Make sure you arrive on time to your hearing; if you are not present when your case is called your case will be dismissed if you are the employee, or will be heard without you if you are the employer. If neither party is present the case will be dismissed.
- A hearing date shall not be postponed or continued unless good cause is shown in a written request for continuance, received by the Office of Consumer Protection, in writing, prior to the date of the hearing.
- You are responsible for presenting your case. Miami-Dade County’s role in the wage theft process is ministerial. The County cannot present evidence, elicit testimony or assist you in proving your case in any way.
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney licensed by the State of Florida or a non-lawyer advocate at the administrative hearing.
- NOTE: Business owners who do not attend, but wish to be represented by a non-attorney employee, must provide a signed, notarized power of attorney authorizing the designated employee to represent the employer at the hearing, subject to the hearing examiner’s approval.
- The administrative hearing will be conducted in English. Therefore, if you need the services of a translator you must bring your own.
- The hearing will be conducted in a quasi-judicial manner and will be heard by a Hearing Examiner.
- The employee has the burden of proving his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence. If the employee meets this burden by providing the requisite amount of evidence, in the form of testimony or documentation, then the burden will shift to the employer to refute the allegations made.
- You must provide an explanation of the circumstances of the violation, including:
- the date or dates (month/day/year format) the alleged violation occurred
- the dollar amount of unpaid or underpaid wages including how the wages were calculated:
- Hours worked each day (or part of day) multiplied by the employee’s hourly or daily Wage Rate
- For piece work, the number of pieces completed multiplied by the Wage Rate per piece.
- Bring copies, for the Hearing Examiner, of all evidence and documentation you plan to present at the hearing
- Examples of evidence and supporting documentation include, but are not limited to:
- a copy of any demand letter the Employee may have sent to the employer for payment of unpaid wage
- a copy of employee’s paycheck(s) (front and back)
- check stubs or payroll vouchers
- a copy of any agreements that were entered into and signed by the employee and the employer
- a written, notarized statement, with name and address, from fellow employee(s) who could substantiate the complaint
- a copy of the employee’s work schedules, time sheets, or any other documentation verifying the number of hours/days worked or pieces complete
- a copy of the employee’s W-2 form from the Employer
- any records maintained by the employee of hours/days worked or pieces completed and wages paid
- If the claim involves a verbal agreement, the employee should provide a thorough written statement detailing the terms of the agreement and any supporting evidence, such as printouts or screen captures of text messages, emails, and witness statements.
- Additionally you may bring any evidence or supporting documentation that you feel may assist the Hearing Examiner in reaching a decision.
- You have the right to subpoena witnesses by submitting the completed subpoena form to the address above, for issuance by the Hearing Examiner, subject to the timelines and provisions set forth in Section 22-4 (3), of the Miami-Dade Code of Ordinances.
- All persons who testify as to facts will be placed under oath.
- Any and all witnesses you bring to testify on your behalf will be subject to cross-examination by the opposing party.
- At the end of the hearing the Hearing Examiner will determine if a wage theft violation has occurred. If there is a finding of wage theft he or she will order the employer to pay wage restitution to the employee in an amount equal to three times back wages.
- If the employer is found to have committed a wage theft then they are responsible for paying back wages (3 times), as well as actual administrative and processing costs to the Board of County Commissioners.
Please note: The County cannot provide recommendations or referrals to private counsel or provide any legal advice.
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