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Thursday, December 12, 2019

McCarter raises concerns over clarity of language in wage claim measure

State Government

By Angela Underwood | May 30, 2018

Illinois capitol(1000)

Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said a line must be drawn when it comes to wage claim penalties.

HB4324, introduced at the May 25 Senate floor debate, would creates the Wage Lien Act and mandate a lien be placed on an employer's property for the amount of unpaid wages owed to an employee, a notion McCarter concluded went too far in a debate with Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), who sponsored the bill.

Although Lightford said there must be consequences if an employer is found guilty of not paying complete wage, McCarter questioned whether the suggested lien would go to the corporation as a whole or the property of the employer with the most shares in the company.

Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon)

“To my understanding, it is just to the employer,” Lightford answered.

That’s the problem, McCarter said, adding the legislation's language is unclear.

“In the bill, it says a subject lien may be placed upon the employer’s real estate, and it’s not clear as to the corporation or the employer’s personal property,” McCarter said.

“It’s just for the bad apples, and they are causing the good employers to have to pay more because of the things that they do that are illegal,” Lightford countered.

But in not being clear, the assumption is a lien can be placed on an employer’s home, McCarter said. 

“I understand we want to protect the citizens of Illinois from employers who misbehave, but I think we have crossed a line here that we shouldn’t cross,” he added.

McCarter referred to his committee comments and what was referenced by Lightford. 

“Not all employers are bad; but when you come up with legislation with the assumption that they are out to get employees, you normally come up with legislation that is not that good,” he said.

McCarter said HB4324 is one of those bills. What drives the relationship between an employer and an employee is the market, he said.

“That market will do more for the employees of this state than we can do by attempting to protect them from a bad employer,” McCarter said, adding, "This is not the answer." 

Despite urging a "no" vote, the bill passed 31-18 in the Senate. It previously passed 88-3 in the House.

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