Minnesota law adds new tools to prevent, investigate wage theft

August 15, 2019

Minnesota leaders say their state now has the strongest law in the nation to protect workers against wage theft. The bipartisan measure (signed into law in May, as part of HF 2) includes greater enforcement tools and tougher penalties for violators.

Wage theft can take many forms — for example, underpayment of minimum wage, nonpayment of overtime compensation or mandatory breaks, and the misclassification of employees. According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, around 40,000 Minnesota workers pursue claims every year, with nearly $12 million a year lost annually as a result of wage theft.

Wage theft in excess of $1,000 will now be a felony, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, and new statutory language penalizes retaliatory actions taken against individuals who report the crime. HF 2 also enhances civil penalties and includes new notification and record-keeping requirements for employers. Over the next two years, Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry will get an additional $3.1 million to enforce wage laws, and the state attorney general has established a new unit dedicated to investigating cases of wage theft.