OLYMPIA – Legislation to help employees receive wages they’ve earned, but not been paid for, cleared the Legislature this week. Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, wrote the bill which follows up to a 2006 wage theft measure he also introduced. “An hour at the job deserves an hour’s pay,” McCoy said. “When an employer breaks that agreement and withholds pay, we need good laws in place to help workers get paid, and get justice.” McCoy’s 2006 measure, House Bill 3185, setup a system with the Department of Labor and Industries for workers to file complaints and seek out ways to collect wages owed to them. Employers not abiding by wage payment requirements now could face penalties in addition to paying back wages. In this year’s legislation, House Bill 3145, McCoy is improving on the system for workers, and increases penalties for employers willfully violating the rules and withholding money owed to employees. “This bill is targeted at employers refusing to do right by their employees,” McCoy said. “Repeat offenders will pay higher fines, in the hopes that they’ll shape up and future workers won’t have to deal with the stress and frustration of being denied pay.” Wage theft laws are particularly focused on the last paycheck owed to an employee. Since the 2006 legislation, the wage theft system has employees recover over $6 million in wages. “I’m encouraged that so many workers have been helped by this law, but it’s also frightening the level in which wages are being withheld,” McCoy said. “With the down economy we’re in, it makes this bill all the more important.” McCoy’s legislation now goes to the governor’s desk. The legislative session is scheduled to end March 11.