NBC News had an interesting report recently indicating that some California politicians are calling for increased penalties for companies that have been accused by employees of wage theft.
According to the news outlet, since 2010, courts in California have identified $273,952,366.15 in stolen worker wages. However, in order to collect back pay from stolen wages, many employees have not gone to attorneys. As a result, some elected officials would like to do more to dissuade wage theft and force companies to pay court-ordered back wages directly.
The news outlet reported that President Pro Tempore of California’s State Senate Kevin De Leon has proposed a law requiring companies that have wage judgments against them to post a bond of $150,000 to keep doing business.
These wage judgments occur when judges review employee claims and rule in favor of workers, ordering back pay to be paid out. However, sadly, a UCLA study in 2011 found that 83 percent of companies ruled against by the California Labor Commissioner never paid back wages they owed. Amazingly, the Labor Commissioner does not follow up on judgments and if a company does not make a payout, the only real way a worker can get the back pay is by working with an attorney.
“Getting money back into workers’ pockets is certainly a challenge,” California Labor Commissioner Julie Su said, according to NBC News.
Because of this, De Leon announced his legislative effort to allow the Labor Commissioner to go after companies that owe back wages. The bill currently awaits approval in the Senate and will need to be signed into law before any changes are made. If approved, it would require businesses to post the bond noted above before it can continue to operate.
Need to Speak to an Attorney About Wage Theft?
Incredibly, the U.S. Department of Labor reported recently that California employees are paid less than the legal minimum wage about 372,000 times every week. Employees need to fight back. If you think you are the victim of wage theft, speak to an attorney about the best way to move forward legally.
Wage and overtime theft occurs when employers dock wages below federal, state or local minimum wage guidelines by working employees off the clock. This can occur when employees are asked to perform tasks off the clock or are misclassified as managers or supervisors, and paid salary rather than an hourly wage in an illegal fashion.
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Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys