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Employers face higher penalties for underpaying workers under new Illinois law

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Pay the price for ripping off employees.

That's the new penalty Illinois employers face if they violate the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

This frequently happens when workers file complaints after receiving no payment or an amount lower than their wage. Many of these employees are low-wage workers who struggle to object to wage theft.

The Illinois Department of Labor can then issue a finding the employer violated the state statute.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law Friday making employers liable for unpaid wages, final compensation, and 5% of the damages of underpayment per month. Illinois employers previously owed 2% of the damages from underpayment.

IDOL Director Michael Kleinick says his department remains committed to ensuring workers receive their pay.

"The Department always encourages mediation between employers and workers when there’s a wage dispute, but the monthly penalty helps hold bad actor employers accountable when they break the law," Kleinick stated.

Senate Sponsor Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) says it's unacceptable for employers to withhold wages from hardworking employees.

"Working families across Illinois deserve to be justly compensated and should receive increased damages for cases of wage theft," Villa said.

Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) led the fight for this legislation in the House. He also stressed the state must hold these employers accountable.

"This law is a huge step toward deterring wage theft and giving restitution to its victims," Guzzardi said.

You can file wage claims by clicking here. Employees needing help with portions of the application form can also call 312-793-2808.

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Mike Miletich

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