TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill introduced in Tallahassee would require a special state office to investigate cases of workers being paid less than minimum wage.
The Florida Policy Institute predicts wage theft to increase in the state following the passing of Amendment 2. The voter-passed legislation requires minimum wages to increase to $10 an hour, increasing $1 per year until 2026.
Alexis Tsoukalas, a policy analyst at the Florida Policy Institute said their research was conducted alongside Rutgers University.
“Wage theft has not been enforced statewide pretty much as long as Florida has had a state minimum wage,” Tsoukalas said.
Tsoukalas said their research shows about 15% of Florida hourly workers are paid less than the legal minimum. She also said certain groups of workers are more likely to be victims of wage theft.
“Especially immigrant and undocumented immigrant workers. They have to fear that if they do speak up, they will lose their job. They will get fired. They will get deported. They will get detained,” Tsoukalas said.
The Florida Policy Institute collected research showing Latina and Black women are at least twice as likely to be paid less than minimum wage.
Rep. Angie Nixon of Jacksonville introduced the house version of the bill.
“I think that it doesn’t exist in Florida for this issue because unfortunately, leadership in Florida cares more about corporations than they do workers,” Nixon said.
Nixon said with agricultural and hospitality workers being most affected, a higher wage would help the state generate more tax revenue.
“We are missing out on a lot of money, and tax revenue if we do not ensure the enforcement of the minimum wage. We could be missing out on upwards of $25.3 million dollars, each year for the next six years,” Nixon said.
Senator Victor Torress introduced the state senate version of the bill.