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Heinrich Cosponsors Legislation to Stop Wage Theft and Ensure Workers Get the Pay They’ve Earned

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that he cosponsored the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, comprehensive legislation to put hard-earned wages back in workers’ pockets and crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees. The bill would also give workers the right to receive full compensation for the work they perform and to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner. 

Each year, wage theft denies workers tens of billions of dollarsin pay they have earned as employers commit a variety of minimum wage, overtime, off-the-clock, tip, and meal-break violations. Wage theft violations are pervasive at many large corporations. Between 2017 and 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor recovered more than $3 billion in stolen wages on behalf of workers—representing just a small fraction of wages stolen nationwide. These illegal practices disproportionately hurt low-wage workers—amplifying poverty and inequality in America.  

“New Mexicans work hard to put food on the table and provide for their family. Their wages should always reflect that work,”said Heinrich. “I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that will crack down on big corporations that withhold pay from workers. I will always stand with New Mexico’s working families and fight to make sure our economy works for them.” 

The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would help combat wage theft and improve wage recovery by: 

  • Strengthening workers’ rights to fair pay and improving employer accountability; 
  • Increasing deterrence of and penalties for wage theftviolations; 
  • Improving recovery of workers’ stolen wages; and 
  • Expanding workers’ rights to their employment records. 

The legislation was led by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.). 

Alongside Heinrich, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy  Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Colo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). 

The legislation is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  

A one-pager on the bill is available here.  

Legislative text is available here