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Cook County OKs ordinance to combat wage theft

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Chicago Tribune
by Alejandra Cancino

Cook County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance aimed at deterring businesses from engaging in wage theft.

Wage theft has been defined as having employees work off the clock, for example. It is a violation of labor law.

Businesses that have broken state or federal wage and labor laws would be disqualified from receiving property tax abatements, business licenses or county contracts. Companies seeking to do business with Cook County also would be required to file an affidavit certifying they have not violated any wage and labor laws.

"We are hoping companies would think twice about engaging in wage theft," said Edward Olivieri, a spokesman for Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, who introduced the ordinance.

Olivieri called wage theft a nationwide epidemic, adding that a University of Illinois study revealed that employers steal more than $7.3 million per week from low-wage workers in Cook County. The legislation, he said, also protects businesses from unscrupulous companies that compete unfairly by taking advantage of workers.

"The goal for the worker center is to deter wage theft from happening," Kader said.



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