On Thursday, August 8, 2019, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a wage theft ordinance that is similar to but has key differences from the wage theft law passed by the Minnesota Legislature earlier this year and that went into effect on July 1, 2019. Minneapolis’s ordinance adds new requirements on top of the state law, and becomes effective on January 1, 2020.
Minneapolis’s wage theft ordinance applies to all employees (including temporary and part-time employees) who work in Minneapolis at least 80 hours per year. This means that employers located outside of Minneapolis may have employees covered by the ordinance. The ordinance prohibits paying employees less than their wages earned, including overtime and paid sick and safety leave.
Wage Notice and Earnings Statements
Similar to the state statute, Minneapolis will require employers to provide a wage notice form to employees. Minneapolis requires employers to provide that form to all employees on January 1, 2020. For new employees hired after January 1, 2020, employers must provide the form on or before their first day of work. Employers must provide an updated form to employees whenever information on the form changes.
Further, Minneapolis requires that notice to include the following information:
- The date on which employment is to begin;
- A notice of the employee’s rights under the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time ordinance, including the method (accrual or frontloading) that the employee will earn sick and safe time, the date upon which they are entitled to use sick and safe time (generally 90 days after employment starts), and the date upon which the employer’s benefit year for sick and safe time begins and ends (e.g. calendar year, fiscal year, etc.);
- A statement that sharing gratuities is voluntary, if applicable; and
- The overtime policy, when overtime will be paid, and the applicable overtime rate of pay.
Employers cannot satisfy these requirements by generally referring to the employee handbook or collective bargaining agreement. Instead, they must refer to the specific section.
The Minneapolis ordinance also departs from state law regarding when employees need to sign the completed notice. Minneapolis requires employees to sign the notice before any changes to the notice are effective, unless the change is an increase in wages and the employer informs the employees in advance of the specific amount of the wage increase and the specific date on which it will occur.
The Minneapolis ordinance also allows employers to provide the notice and earnings statements electronically, as long as the employer also provides an employer-owned computer during regular work hours for employees to use to check or print those documents. Employers must provide paper copies of the notice or earnings statements upon an employee’s request. Finally, earnings statements must include earned and unused time for paid sick and safe time.
Personnel Policies and Postings
Identical to the state statute, the Minneapolis ordinance requires employers to track when they deliver personnel policies to employees. Please contact us if you would like a template form that complies with the state law and the Minneapolis ordinance.
One new requirement is to hang a poster notifying employees of their rights under the wage theft ordinance. We expect this form to be available on the website of the City of Minneapolis prior to January 1, 2020.
Additional Enforcement of State Wage and Hour Laws
Currently, state law requires employers to pay overtime and to provide meal and rest breaks. These laws are enforced by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Minneapolis’s ordinance incorporates these state laws, thereby allowing Minneapolis to also enforce overtime and break time laws. If federal or state authorities penalize an employer for wage theft, Minneapolis will not assess additional penalties.
The ordinance prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the ordinance. The ordinance sets out a lower standard for employees to prove retaliation occurred. Under the ordinance, retaliation can be proven if the employee’s protected action was “a motivating factor” – not the sole factor – for the adverse employment action.
The ordinance also sets forth a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer takes adverse employment action that materially changes the terms or conditions of employment within 90 days of an employee’s protected activity. Employers may rebut this presumption by providing clear and convincing evidence that they took the action for non-retaliatory purposes.
Enforcement and Penalties for Violations of Ordinance
The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will be charged with enforcing this new ordinance. Employees also have a private right of action, which means they may file lawsuits in court and potentially recover attorneys’ fees and costs.
If an employer violates the ordinance, Minneapolis may publish the employer’s name as part of a list of violators and take adverse action against any license the employer holds with the City of Minneapolis. Additionally, Minneapolis will not award contracts to employers that have outstanding wage obligations.
Contact Us for Additional Information
Provided is a link to the revised form that may be used to comply with the wage-notice requirements of the Minnesota wage theft statute and the Minneapolis ordinance. Contact your labor and employment team at Best & Flanagan if you have any questions about compliance with these laws.