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El Paso council passes amendment strengthening protection against wage theft

Workers in El Paso now have another layer of protection to make sure they're paid. The El Paso City Council passed an amendment Tuesday to the wage theft ordinance.

The move expands to the scope of businesses outside of city contracts.

The amendment is an effort to prevent more victims of wage theft. It allows the city to deny licenses and permits to a business found guilty of wage theft.

Prior to the council's vote Tuesday, the ordinance only applied to city contracts.

Many worker groups in El Paso said the city needed to widen the ordinance to further protect workers in other fields of work. Tuesday's vote now means the city can deny licenses to businesses like restaurants, laundries and vendors if they are found in violation of wage theft.

There will also be a 15-day appeal period for the businesses that have been denied. The business can have its name removed from a database if the employer can provide proof that the judgment was overturned or dropped, proof of full payment of the judgment or five or more years have passed since the judgment.

It's similar to a bill that was proposed at the state level by Rep. Mary Gonzalez in the last legislative session, but was voted down.

Supporters of the amendment said this could send a message to the state to enact similar protocol.

The approved amendment goes into effect immediately.

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