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Shelby County Commission Defeats Wage Theft Ordinance

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(Memphis) Shelby County commissioners shoot down an ordinance pushed hard by some to give low-wage workers another place to turn if they feel they're not getting paid fairly.

It’s called the wage theft ordinance, and County Commissioner Steve Mulroy tried several times to get it through, but it failed every time,  “You're not going to get relief under these situations that's why other jurisdictions around the country have adopted wage theft ordinances and that's why we're doing this now."

Mulroy sponsored the measure to protect workers from wage theft.

The ordinance would have fined employers found guilty.

Supporters of the ordinance say it's needed, and would create a person to review workers claims to see if there is enough evidence to go to court.  

“There are so many workers out there who are not getting paid what their supposed to get paid. Here are workers simply working for tips and there are people working who aren't getting paid overtime,” said Kyle Kordmeier with Workers Interfaith Network.

While supporters of the ordinance say there is a need, opponents are happy with today's outcome.

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce said the ordinance would have driven business away from Shelby County and unnecessarily duplicate options that are already out there for workers on the federal and state level.

Small business owners also spoke before the commission against a wage theft ordinance saying it would make small business a target for disgruntled employees.

They also claim they may have to close down or fire people because of legal fees fighting untrue accusations.

Supporters of the wage theft ordinance say they will try again and keep pushing the issue.