The Rhode Island Senate passed two pieces of legislation today designed to curtail the theft of hard earned wages from employees by unscrupulous employers; the measures offer employees improved methods for collecting unpaid wages.
The first piece of legislation (2016-S 2235) passed was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). Leader Ruggerio’s bill would establish a procedure for employees to secure liens against employers for unpaid wages and contested claims would be decided by the Superior Court.
“There is no excuse for loyal and hardworking employees to not get paid what they are owed,” said Senator Ruggerio. “It’s simple, if an employee does their job, they should get paid. This legislation will provide those employees who are wronged by their employers an effective way of obtaining their rightfully earned pay.”
The second piece of legislation (2016-S 2475) was sponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence). Senator Nesselbush’s legislation increases the penalties for nonpayment of wages and improves access to the justice system for aggrieved employees to file claims against no paying employers for unpaid wages.
“Wage theft is one step above slavery and must be eradicated. Workers are the engine and backbone of our economy, our families and our society. We need to treat them fairly which means we must rout out wage theft wherever we see it and wherever we find it,” said Senator Nesselbush. “Too often, workers are taken advantage of in the shadows of industry out of greed and arrogance; unscrupulous employers are not above the law.
Immigrants and those with little education and who earn low wages to begin with are disproportionately the victims of wage theft. These are the individuals these measures seek to protect and assist. This legislation will give employees a mechanism to fight back against such practices and collect what they are owed.”
Both pieces of legislation now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.