Wage theft is an unjust way for companies to take away the fruits of labor from their employees. California is no stranger to wage theft, and there are thousands of claims being filed with the Labor Commissioner’s Office every year.
For example, NBC’s Bay Area branch recently published a story on a residential home caregiver being awarded $64,904 in unpaid wages. According to the woman, she had worked 10 to 12 hour shifts six days a week but was never paid overtime. Her case is not unique, and California workers are robbed of more than a quarter billion dollars in wages every year. Employers will fail to pay overtime, falsify the numbers of hours worked, or claim workers are independent contractors to steal wages.
In some cases, workers never collect back pay even after filing wage claims. Shady employers will shut down, file Chapter 11 or use other means to avoid paying workers what they are owed. A 2013 study conducted by UCLA discovered only 17 percent of workers recovered unpaid wages from employers.
However, this does not mean workers should be deterred from filing wage claims or hiring a labor law attorney. Victims of wage theft may have legal options to collect what is owed while holding their employer accountable for their actions.
How Workers Can Receive Unpaid Wages
Last year, California passed SB 588, also known as the A Fair Day’s Pay Act. SB 588 allows the Labor Commissioner to place liens on businesses, or demand they cease operating in California. This new bill can make the process of receiving unpaid wages easier for some workers, as the consequences for businesses who do not pay are now much more severe.
Labor law attorneys have experience helping affected workers gather evidence to bring cases against dishonest employers. Wage claim disputes can be won, and it is important workers stand up and fight against theft.