Miami-Dade County helps victims of wage theft

MIAMI – You got the job. You did the work. But what do you do when you don't get paid?

Wage theft is a real issue impacting workers in a wide array of industries, from restaurants and retail to construction and the corporate world.

"I think you have a lot of employees who are being promised payments, and sometimes, that promise may be fulfilled, but in many times, it's not," Bryant Acevedo said.

Acevedo is a public information officer with the Miami-Dade County Office of Consumer Protection.

"Do you try to sue? What do you do? I think there are a lot of people who don't even know where to start," he said.

Acevedo said the consumer protection office's Wage Theft Program helps workers investigate and recover unpaid wages for free. 

The office was able to successfully conciliate $361,742 worth of unpaid wages in 2017.

"Wage theft is where you have an employee who is simply not being paid [or] compensated for their work," Acevedo said.

Types of complaints handled by the Office of Consumer Protection Wage Theft Program include:

Unpaid wages
Underpaid wages
Fewer hours than worked
Work completed after notice of separation
Work completed during pay period of termination 
Rate lower than agreed upon
Unpaid vacation/sick time
Unpaid commissions
Bounced paychecks
Promised payments


Acevedo said office staff not only investigate, but act as arbitrators helping consumers recover their wages. He said that's why documentation and evidence are crucial. You must be able to prove your employment and rate of pay.

"If there was some sort of contract, we would love to see that," he said.

Acevedo said it is also important to see your documented rate of pay or commission rates.

Acevedo said his office can help as long as the work was performed in Miami-Dade County.

Complaints have to be filed within a year of the work being done. You must also be owed a minimum of $60 and no more than $15,000.

The county's Wage Theft Program does exclude independent contractors.

"People need their paychecks in order to pay their bills, meet a certain quality of life," Acevedo said. "I would tell anyone, come here first and see if we can assist you for free. It's just a phone call."

Click here to report an incident of wage theft in Miami-Dade County. 

The Miami-Dade Office of Consumer Protection
601 NW 1st Court, 18th Floor
Miami, FL 33136

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