Cook County Board of Commissioners Passes Wage Theft Ordinance

New legislation will make Cook County a national leader in combating wage theft

The Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a significant new ordinance designed to address the problem of wage theft. The ordinance, which was introduced by Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski and co-sponsored by Board President Toni Preckwinkle, prohibits any company or individual who is found guilty or liable of wage theft from obtaining Cook County procurement contracts, business licenses or property tax incentives for a period of five years. Cook County is now the largest county in the nation to pass such legislation.

“These past several years have been some of the most economically challenging in our nation’s history and the impact of the Great Recession has been most damaging to our low-wage workers,” Preckwinkle said. “Unscrupulous business owners have exploited low-wage workers by refusing to pay overtime, classifying legal employees as independent contractors, paying less than minimum wage, and, in some instances, even refusing to pay wages outright. This is unfair to hard-working employees and their families and it’s unfair to competing businesses which are operating within the confines of the law.”

“Millions of dollars in wages are stolen from workers by their own employers every year. Businesses who take advantage of Cook County workers should not benefit from Cook County contracts, licenses and property tax incentives,” said Tobolski.

Representatives from ARISE Chicago, an organization dedicated to building partnerships between faith communities and workers to fight workplace injustice, praised the legislation.

“For businesses and working people to thrive in Cook County, we need to be morally grounded in our business ethics.  We applaud Commissioner Tobolski and President Preckwinkle for their leadership on this ordinance, which is a building block in making Cook County the most ethical place in the country to do business!” said Arise Chicago Executive Director, Rev. C.J. Hawking.