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Delaware Senate Democrats

Sen. Walsh leads the charge against wage theft

June 9, 2022

DOVER — The Delaware State Senate on Thursday passed legislation to combat wage theft by addressing the many methods employers use to withhold wages from their employees. This bill will protect Delaware workers and taxpayers from employers who try to pay their employees “under the table.”

Sponsored by Senator Jack Walsh, Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 35 defines specific violations of wage payment and collection laws under Chapter 11 of Title 19 as wage theft and provides specific penalties for these violations, including a new criminal offense of wage theft, with a mechanism for the Delaware Department of Labor to refer completed investigations to the Delaware Department of Justice for prosecution.

Wage theft can include, but is not limited to, an employer’s failure to pay the minimum wage or overtime, an employer’s refusal to pay a worker for all hours worked, asking workers to work off the clock, employee misclassification, failure to properly withhold state and federal taxes from an employee, or employing an individual without reporting the individual’s employment to all appropriate government agencies.

By clearly defining wage theft, Delaware employers will know what actions violate state law. Employees also will be protected against personal risk in the areas of unemployment compensation and workplace injuries.
“Workers deserve to be fairly compensated for every hour they work,” said Sen. Walsh, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. “This bill will hold employers accountable who are trying to short-change their employees and taxpayers across Delaware.”

“Circumventing state laws to pay people less or ‘under the table’ or to avoid paying their fair share of taxes is unfair to workers and to the state. It can have damaging effects if a worker sustains a workplace injury or needs unemployment compensation,” said Rep. Ed Osienski, the lead House sponsor of SB 35(S). “By clearly defining wage theft, we will correct this issue and ensure that employers are meeting their obligations and not shortchanging workers or the state.”

SS 1 for SB 35 now heads to the House for consideration.