Every day, low-wage workers in Memphis and Shelby County face the theft of their wages. Employers hire workers and then exploit them by refusing to pay for hours, days, or even weeks' worth of labor that they've performed. Shelby County Sheriff Mark Lutrell and District Attorney Bill Gibbons should establish a policy that recognizes the theft of wages as a crime, so that workers can file criminal charges against employers who refuse to pay them.
I urge you to develop a written policy that recognizes theft of wages as a crime under Tennessee's Theft of Services Act, so that workers can file criminal charges against employers who refuse to pay them. Other municipalities including Austin, Texas have developed effective methods of using their states' theft of services law to prosecute wage theft.
Workers Interfaith Network (WIN), an organization of people of faith and low-wage workers in Shelby County, has attempted to work with representatives of each of your departments about this matter. WIN has presented a proposal to the White Collar Crimes Division, and representatives of the organization were told that this was an issue the Division was interested in pursuing. WIN is disappointed that we have been unable to obtain follow-up meetings with the White Collar Crimes Division to address this urgent matter.
I urge you to work with WIN and move forward on this important proposal, so that workers no longer have to face the theft of their wages without any recourse available to them.