Lawmakers advance penalties for wage theft

By: MICHAEL BRICK, Associated Press
By: MICHAEL BRICK, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Employers would be fined for stealing wages from workers under a bill advancing in the Texas Legislature.

The House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development advanced the proposal in a 6-2 vote on Wednesday. Though the bill has cleared the Senate, the negative votes indicate it may be subject to debate in the House.

Under current law, the Texas Workforce Commission can penalize companies that withhold wages in "bad faith." But it issued penalties in less than 12 percent of the 1,028 cases last year.

The bill by Democratic Sen. Jose Rodriguez of El Paso would define acts of bad faith to include repeat offenses, retaliation against workers, reckless disregard of the law and failure to pay multiple workers. It would require fines of up to $1,000.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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