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New Minnesota wage theft law takes effect Monday

With more enforcement and higher penalties, Department of Labor and Industry hopes to reduce wage theft.

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A batch of new Minnesota laws designed to curb wage theft take effect Monday, offering consequences to employers that fail to pay employees.

As of July 1, the law will require an employer to keep certain employment documents and present them to the Department of Labor and Industry upon request, and an employer failing to do so could receive a fine of up $5,000.

Most notably, the law boosts consequences for employers engaged in wage theft. If found guilty of stealing wages, an employer could face up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, effective August 1.

It also requires employers to provide written of their employment terms, prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee that complains to the state or asserts their rights. The new law also gives the government greater authority and access to those documents and workplaces for its investigations.

To enforce the new laws, the Department of Labor and Industry is also boosting enforcement, Commissioner Nancy Leppink told the News Tribune.


“The department wants to be fully equipped to be able to respond when prevention isn’t successful,” Leppink said.

Through a $1 million appropriation last legislative session, and an additional $1.5 million per year going forward, the number of DLI investigators has doubled twice and will soon reach 14 people total.

That, Leppink said, will help the agency follow-up with the 40,000 people who submit wage-theft complaints, conduct workplace inspections and identify which businesses and industries are most likely to engage in wage-theft.

“Right now the majority of the resources are being spent responding to complaints,” Leppink said. “These additional resources will allow the department to be more proactive and conducting inspections, and to be more able to devote its resources to sectors where we know we have problems.”

Leppink said the field labor, restaurant, janitorial and maintenance services, security services and home care services industries often “have business models that result in not paying people properly” and that the agency will keep a closer eye on those employers going forward.

Upon its passing, Minnesota AFL-CIO, a labor union, said the law means “more working Minnesotans get the justice they deserve.”

The wage theft law is just one of several laws from 2019 legislative session passed last month that take effect July 1.

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