Wage Theft and Recovery

Protection for Residents from Wage Theft

Wage theft is the non-payment or underpayment of earned wages to employees by employers. This can include an employee’s earned paid time off, leave, vacation or sick pay. For example, wage theft includes paying less than minimum wage, not paying workers overtime, not allowing workers to take meal and rest breaks, or taking workers’ tips.

To protect residents in Pinellas County from being victims of wage theft, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners passed the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance, which provides a process for victims of wage theft to seek recovery of unpaid wages. This ordinance is administered by the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.

If you work for a covered employer in the geographic boundaries of Pinellas County and need to file a complaint, you can do so by contacting the Office of Human Rights at (727) 464-4880 and asking for the Intake Officer or filling out the online complaint form below.

  • Wage Theft and Recovery Complaint Online Form
    A signed complaint for wage theft must be filed with Pinellas County Office of Human Rights no later than one (1) year after the last date upon which the employee performed the work for an employer.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Wage Theft Complaints Information

Question: The federal government is exploring ways to provide economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. May I file a Pinellas County wage theft complaint against my employer for failure to comply with any measures that may be enacted by the federal government?

Answer: No. Generally, section 70-306 of the Pinellas County Codes provides protections for wage theft when an employee is unpaid, in-full or in-part, for work already performed. Any federal measures relating solely to COVID-19 relief are outside the scope of section 70-306.

If an employee believes they were denied pay they are due under any federal measures to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are encouraged to obtain more information by visiting the United States Department of Labor’s COVID-19 web page at www.dol.gov/coronavirus.

Recent Amendments to Wage Theft/Recovery Ordinance, and Employer Resources

The Board of County Commissioners have enacted amendments to the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance which require employers to post, in an area visible to employees, information about their rights under the ordinance, certain information relating to the employer, how the employer may be contacted, the employee’s rate of pay and when wages are due.

Downloadable versions of the required posting, as well as a form providing employees information on their employer and pay, are below.

Wage Theft Hearings

Members of the public who wish to observe Wage Theft Hearings may report to the Office of Human Rights Conference Room, which is located at 400 S. Ft. Harrison Ave., 5th floor, Clearwater, FL 33756. Hearings will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. Ordinarily, wage theft hearings are heard on the third Monday of each month.

Should you have any questions about this notice or about the hearing process, please contact Ronisha Taylor, Wage Theft Coordinator, by phone at 727-464-5499 or e-mail rtaylor@pinellas.gov.

Los miembros del público que interesen observar las audiencias sobre el robo de salarios pueden ir a la Sala de Conferencias de la Oficina de Derechos Humanos, ubicada en el 400 S. Ft. Harrison Ave., 5º piso, Clearwater, FL 33756. Las audiencias comenzarán puntualmente a las 9:30 a.m. Por lo general, las audiencias por robo de salario se celebran el tercer lunes de cada mes.

Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre este aviso o sobre el proceso de audiencia, comuníquese con Ronisha Taylor, Coordinadora de Robo de Sueldos, al 727-464-5499 o por correo electrónico a rtaylor@pinellas.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is an "employee" as defined in the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance?

An employee is a person who performs work for an employer within Pinellas County. This does not include a bona fide independent contractor (as defined by the Internal Revenue Code). Employee may also include a person who performs work that benefits an employer located within Pinellas County even though the employee may have performed work outside of Pinellas County.

Who is a covered "employer" as defined in the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance?

A covered employer is any person who, acting individually or as an officer, agent or employee of another person, acts directly or indirectly in the interest to a person or entity employing an employee, but this does does not include any Federal or State agency or entity.

Why was adoption of the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance necessary?

The following considerations, among others, led to the enactment of the Wage Theft and Recovery Ordinance:

  • Economic security for persons working in Pinellas County.
  • Promotion of business and economic development by eliminating unfair competition by businesses that do not pay or underpay their employees.
  • Reduction of the number of employees who rely on public assistance for essential needs because their employer does not pay or underpays earned wages.

What is "non-payment of earned wages" according to the ordinance?

When an employer fails to pay any portion of wages earned by an employee within a reasonable amount of time from the date on which wages were due for work performed by the employee. This includes earned paid time off, leave, vacation or sick pay.

What are the penalties for an employer not paying wages to an employee?

If an employer is found to have unlawfully failed to pay earned wages, the employee will be entitled to receive three times the amount of back wages that the employer is found to have unlawfully failed to pay the employee. The employer may also pay to the Board of County Commissioners an assessment of costs in an amount not to exceed actual administrative processing costs and costs of the hearing.

Can I file an anonymous complaint?

No. Contact information and the aggrieved employee’s participation in the process is required. 

Will my employer know that I complained?

Yes. The employer will be contacted to resolve the complaint.

What if I am fired for complaining?

Retaliation for filing a complaint is unlawful and should be reported to Pinellas County Office of Human Rights for further action.

What documentation is helpful in processing a wage theft and recovery complaint?

Any information or documentation you can provide to establish that you were an employee, that you worked under an agreed upon wage and that you earned a specific amount of wages not paid could help support your claim. Typically, this may include (but is not necessarily limited to):

  • Copies of demand letters or other communications sent by the employee to the employer.
  • Copies of employee paychecks and check stubs.
  • Copies of any pay agreements relating to the employee’s wages.
  • The names and contact information of any witnesses who can substantiate the allegations of the complaint.
  • Copies of the employee’s work schedule, timesheets, and W-2 forms.
  • Any other records of the time worked or wages paid.

What happens after a wage theft and recovery complaint is filed?

Once a complaint is filed, your complaint will be reviewed and processed. Once processed, the company will initially have 21 days to respond. The 21 days is from the date the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights (PCOHR) Wage Theft department sends the notice to the employer, not the date the complaint was filed. PCOHR will attempt to resolve the matter via settlement or the voluntary conciliation process. If conciliation is declined or unsuccessful and a settlement has not been reached, the case will be placed on the next available docket to be heard before the Special Magistrate.

What if the complaint is not conciliated?

If either party declines the offer to participate in the conciliation process or if the conciliation process is unsuccessful, the case will be placed on the next available docket to be heard before the Special Magistrate.