Wage theft ‘czar’ on the way for Philly

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 Councilman Bill Greenlee says his bill allows for revoking the business licenses of those who don't pay their workers all they are owed. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Councilman Bill Greenlee says his bill allows for revoking the business licenses of those who don't pay their workers all they are owed. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council is getting serious about wage theft — the illegal under payment or non-payment of wages. A bill proposed by council to create a city office to address the issue has some teeth.

Councilman Bill Greenlee said the bill allows for revoking the business licenses of those who fail to pay their workers all they are owed.

“It has penalties and fines in there. We give the wage coordinator pretty good discretion in taking action,” Greenlee said. “We’re not looking to tar and feather anybody, we’re looking to get people paid what they are supposed to be paid.”

Nadia Hewka of Community Legal Services said a Temple University study estimates about 92,000 cases of wage theft occur each week  in Philadelphia.

“Be it failure to pay overtime, classification of workers as independent contractors and simple failure to pay, shaving hours or deducting hours, all the ways employers do what we call wage theft,” Hewka said.

Mayor Michael Nutter now has the bill for his review.

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