Gov. Brown Signs Senator Mendoza Bill to Prevent Wage Theft from California Workers

From California Newswire:

by Christopher Simmons

A measure, SB 1342, authored by Calif. Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) that would protect workers by paving the way for a statewide mechanism at the local level to fight wage theft, was signed by Governor Brown today. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1342,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws.”

“As cities and counties in California move to raise the minimum wage, we must ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” added Senator Tony Mendoza.

Fifteen cities in California have passed minimum wage ordinances going beyond the State-mandated $10 an hour. In many cases however, employers do not obey these laws. For example, San Francisco City and County have passed ordinances to raise the local minimum wage to $12.25 an hour. Additionally, they have set a precedent by creating an Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to uphold these laws and address the shortfall in local wage enforcement.

In Los Angeles County, which possesses a population more than 11 times larger than San Francisco County, workers are denied over $26 million a week in earned wages, but have no local investigative mechanism to assist them.

SB 1342 strengthens the law by permitting a board of supervisors of a county or the legislative body of a city to investigate wage theft. Specifically, it allows cities and counties to delegate their administrative subpoena authority to a county or city official to investigate allegations of wage theft. Currently the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE) is the primary entity charged with examining wage theft cases. SB 1342 also assists in enabling counties and cities to partner with State and Federal officials in wage theft investigations.

Wage theft occurs when an employer does not pay a worker all of his or her earned wages. This includes unpaid minimum wage, unpaid overtime, and off-the-clock work. Wage theft among immigrant and low-wage workers is pervasive statewide and hurtful to workers and their families. It reduces the take-home pay of workers, contributing to food insecurity, and unstable housing, amongst other issues. Local governments across the State have raised their local minimum wage. Wage enforcement resources have not kept pace with the scale of wage theft in California. SB 1342 helps address this lack of enforcement.

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