Wage theft ordinance supporters face opposition - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Wage theft ordinance supporters face opposition

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

It's an issue that gets both sides worked up.

A proposed county ordinance to protect workers against wage theft has some wondering if it really will help employees or line the pockets of county attorneys.

The Workers Interfaith Network (WIN) picketed in Downtown Memphis on Saturday, making sure people heard loud and clear that the proposed Shelby County wage theft ordinance is vital to protect local workers.

"We're out here to try and get good businesses to sign on to try and help us pass a law that's going to keep low wage workers and also that's going to keep a lot of bad things from happening to these other businesses," says Kyle Kordsmeier with WIN.

According to the ordinance's creator, Steve Mulroy, federal judges are less likely to take up smaller wage theft claims made by local employees. Mulroy says this proposed county ordinance would provide simple, local systems for area employees to file claims against employers who they believe are short changing them.

"It's a simple, streamlined process that would set up a negotiation between the employer, a hearing officer and the worker, and all they have to do is provide a pay stub or some simple form of proof that they paid their worker," says Kordsmeier.

But at Saturday's protest, WIN faced opposition who believe that money would still end up in the wrong hands.

"You have to ask yourself why we're trying to pass a local ordinance here to do this. The reason they're trying to do that is because it's really about the attorneys and is becoming a shake-down operation for attorneys," says Jon Crisp with the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Alliance.

WIN's protest took place outside of the Holiday Inn Select; the hotel is not accused of wage theft but the general manager is also the Chairman of the Metropolitan Memphis Hospitality and Lodging Association. He opposes the county's proposed ordinance.

"It creates another layer of government control and bureaucracy with business, not just hotels and restaurants, but all business," says Wayne Tabor, Chairman of MMHLA.

Some in opposition of the proposed ordinance also say it would bring about a lot of employees creating frivolous claims.

The Shelby County Commission is taking up the proposed ordinance on Jan. 14.

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