Osceola County Wage Recovery Program
On March 16, 2015, the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance prohibiting wage theft in the county. The Wage Recovery Ordinance applies to all private employers with employees who are performing work within the geographical boundaries of Osceola County.
The purpose of the ordinance includes: eliminating the underpayment or nonpayment of wages; eliminating unfair economic competition by "unscrupulous businesses"; and relieving the public burden of subsidizing employees of "unscrupulous businesses."
Any employer who fails to pay any portion of wages due to an employee, according to the wage rate applicable to that employee, within a reasonable time from the date on which that employee performed the work for which those wages were compensation, shall be liable for wage theft. As with state and federal wage and hour laws, individuals may be liable under the ordinance if they were capable of exercising supervisory authority over the complaining employee and were responsible to some degree for the alleged violation.
Upon a finding by a hearing officer appointed by Osceola County or by a court of competent jurisdiction that an employer unlawfully failed to pay wages, an employee shall be entitled to receive back wages in addition to liquidated damages from that employer.
Filing a Wage Recovery Complaint
In order to process your case you must first complete and submit the Wage Recovery Complaint Affidavit. You may also request the form by calling the Osceola County Attorney’s Office at (407)742-2200.
Legally, your claim must meet the following minimum criteria:
- Work must have been performed in Osceola County;
- Amount owed must exceed $60;
- Individual must be or have been an employee of the business; and
- Work must have been performed within the previous 12 months.
See the Wage Recovery Program Frequently Asked Questions for further eligibility criteria.
If your claim meets the criteria, then submit the Wage Recovery Complaint Affidavit and include photocopies of all documents that show you were employed by this business, and any other documents that support your allegation such as check stubs, canceled checks and W2 forms. Sign and date the Wage Recovery Complaint Affidavit and mail it to the address indicated on the top of the form, or submit it electronically. Incomplete applications will not be processed and will be returned for completion.
Once a completed affidavit and sufficient supporting documents have been received and reviewed by the County, the County will attempt to serve the employer notice of the complaint via certified mail. This notice allows the employer to respond to the claim within 20 days of receipt. You also have the option of retaining the services of a court-appointed process server to ensure delivery of notice, if certified mail sent by Osceola County is undeliverable.
After the employer is served with the complaint and has an opportunity to respond, the County will engage the parties in a conciliation process designed to settle the dispute. Employees must participate in the conciliation process or their complaint shall be dismissed.
Administrative Hearing Process
If the dispute does not resolve through the conciliatory process or the employer does not respond within the 20 days and the County Attorney’s Office has confirmation of receipt of the notice, either through U.S. Postal Service or process server, the case will be scheduled for a hearing date.
At the time of the hearing, both the claimant and the employer will have the opportunity to present their cases. If the Hearing Officer determines that a wage violation has occurred, he or she may order the employer to pay liquidated damages to the claimant of up to three times the amount of wages claimed, as well as payment to the County of administrative costs associated with conducting the hearing.
What to Expect at the Wage Recovery Hearing
The following guidelines will help navigate you through a hearing.
Make sure you arrive on time to your hearing; if you are not present when your case is called your case will be dismissed if you are the employee, or will be heard without you if you are the employer. If neither party is present the case will be dismissed.
A hearing date shall not be postponed or continued unless good cause is shown in a written request for continuance, received at the address listed above, in writing, prior to the date of the hearing.
You are responsible for presenting your case. Osceola County's only role in the administrative hearing is to process the complaint. The County cannot present evidence, elicit testimony or assist you in proving your case in any way.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney licensed by the State of Florida at the administrative hearing. NOTE: Business owners who do not attend, but wish to be represented by a non-attorney employee, must provide a signed, notarized power of attorney at the hearing, subject to the hearing examiner's approval.
The administrative hearing will be conducted in English. Therefore, if you need the services of a translator you must bring your own.
The hearing will be conducted in a quasi-judicial manner and will be heard by a Hearing Officer appointed by the County.
The employee has the burden of proving his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence. If the employee meets this burden by providing the requisite amount of evidence, in the form of testimony or documentation, then the burden will shift to the employer to refute the allegations made.
You must be prepared to provide an explanation of the circumstances of the violation, including:
- The date or dates (month/day/year format) the alleged violation occurred
- The dollar amount of unpaid wages including how the wages were calculated
- Hours worked each day (or part of day) multiplied by the employee's hourly or daily wage rate
- For piece work, the number of pieces completed multiplied by the wage rate per piece.
Bring copies, for the Hearing Officer and all parties, of all evidence and documentation you plan to present at the hearing.
Examples of evidence and supporting documentation may include, but are not limited to:
- a copy of any demand letter the employee may have sent to the employer for payment of unpaid wages;
- a copy of employee's paycheck(s) (front and back);
- check stubs or payroll voucher;
- a copy of any agreements that were entered into and signed by the employee and the employer;
- a written, notarized statement, with name and address, from fellow employee(s) who could substantiate the complaint;
- a copy of employee's work schedules, time sheets, or any other documentation verifying the number of hours/days worked or pieces complete;
- a copy of the employee's W-2;
- any records maintained by the employee of hours/days worked or pieces completed and wages paid;
- if the claim involves a verbal agreement, employee should provide a thorough written statement detailing the terms of the agreement
Additionally you may bring any evidence or supporting documentation that you feel may assist the Hearing Officer in reaching a decision.
You have the right to subpoena witnesses by submitting the completed subpoena form to the address above for issuance by the Hearing Officer.
All persons who testify as to facts will be placed under oath.
Any and all witnesses you bring to testify on your behalf will be subject to cross-examination by the opposing party.
At the end of the hearing the Hearing Officer will determine if a wage theft violation has occurred. If there is a finding of wage theft he or she may order the employer to pay wage restitution to the employee in an amount equal to three times back wages, as well as actual administrative and processing costs to the Board of County Commissioners.
If the Hearing Officer determines that a complaint was made without any basis in law or fact the Hearing Officer may order the employee to reimburse the County for its administrative costs and the employer for its reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
Please note: The County cannot provide recommendations or referrals to private counsel or provide any legal advice.