Policy Priorities

Eliminating wage theft in Houston serves the public purpose by promoting economic security and dignity for those working in the city; by promoting business and economic development through the elimination of unfair economic competition by unscrupulous businesses that do not pay or that underpay their employees; and to relieve the burden on the public that subsidize unscrupulous employers whose employees are forced to rely on public assistance because of unpaid or underpaid wages. We believe our city has both the authority and responsibility to provide real solutions for the workers and responsible businesses that work day-to-day to make our city thrive, and turn Houston into a just and prosperous place to work.

Houston Wage Theft Ordinance

The City of Houston should adopt an ordinance that addresses the culture of impunity by creating real consequences for companies with a documented record of wage theft and protections from retaliation for workers who exercise their rights to file complaints when not paid for all hours worked.


The ordinance should include real consequences for unscrupulous employers to ensure proper enforcement after a wage theft verdict or judgment has been issued:

  • Employers who fail to provide compensation and restitution will lose existing city business licenses and certifications and/or will become ineligible for future issue or renewal of such
  • Repeat offenders will lose or become ineligible for Houston city contracts, and based on the severity of the case, may be eligible for debarment
  • Employers who do not do business with the City may also face civil or criminal charges if they fail to provide compensation or restitution


Houston must send the message that we will not tolerate unscrupulous employers to take advantage of hard-working Houstonians. The city of Houston can take the following steps to prevent wage theft from occurring and ensure that responsible Houston businesses have a fair playing-field:

  • Adopting responsible contracting practices that ensure that city contractors are abiding by state and federal labor laws and paying their workers
  • Ensuring that city money does not go towards funding employers who have committed wage theft and other labor abuses
  • Affirming a zero-tolerance policy for wage theft in the City of Houston