DES MOINES, Iowa – Some state lawmakers say wage-theft is becoming a serious problem in Iowa, and they brought several Iowans who claim to be victims of the issue with them to the statehouse Tuesday.
Senate Democrats attempted to pass a bill last session that would add tougher penalties on businesses in the state who committed wage-theft to workers, but consensus on the measure wasn’t received in the House. Now, lawmakers are hoping to see the same exact bill pass as law this session.
Several victims of wage-theft shared their stories in a news conference Tuesday; one was a student from the University of Iowa, Katie Wilson, who says, while employed as a waitress at Applebee’s, management stole from the communal tip jar she and her co-workers were required to place their tips in.
“I needed all of those extra dollars they took from me. It’s hard enough only making $4.35 an hour. Servers depend on the generosity of others, our employers to give us good shifts, and our customers to give us good tips,” she said. “And on top of it all, Applebees was taking my hard-earned money.”
Lawmakers say, right now, the state has limited authority on action it can take to help victims of wage-theft. While Wilson and her co-workers have asked for an investigation into their claim by the Federal Department of Labor, they want to see stricter laws on wage-theft here in the state.
Senate Democrats say they hope increased publicity on this issue will push their colleagues in the House to take up the bill.