Governor Jerry Brown signs historic California wage theft legislation

Ian Pajer-Rogers |


In a sweeping victory for California workers, Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law a wage theft bill that will prevent companies from evading court orders pertaining to wage theft cases and give the California Labor Commission the power to impose liens on the property of business owners who commit wage theft.

“With the Governor’s signature on SB 588 we are sending a message to employers around our state and around the country, California is setting the standard on protecting workers and hacking at the roots of income inequality,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, who wrote the legislation. 

“Stealing the pay of workers is unconscionable. It takes food off their tables and makes it difficult – if not impossible – to provide for their families. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is one of the cornerstones of our economy, and of our values as a nation.”

A UCLA study recently found that in Los Angeles alone, workers are victims of wage theft to the tune of $26.2 million every week. Even when workers file formal complaints, 87% of stolen wages are never recovered.

Alexandra Suh, Executive Director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), a key member of the alliance which advocated for SB 588, said, “Not only is it almost impossible to live on less than the minimum wage in California, it is very difficult for honest employers to compete with companies that ignore the law. This bill sends a strong message that California supports companies that play by the rules.”