BY DONNA WESTFALL CREDIT TO MARC FIFSHER, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Last year, two Los Angeles City Councilmen proposed a motion to draft a wage theft ordinance which would criminalize wage theft and increase penalties and fines on employers who unfairly cheat their employees out of pay. Workers, business owners, and community groups will share their experiences.
What is wage theft? It’s when employers don’t pay their workers a day’s wages for a day’s work.
WHY: Los Angeles is the wage theft capital of the nation. Every week workers lose $26.2 million in wage theft violations, the highest of any other major city in the country. Yet, Los Angeles is behind the curve in legislation. Other major cities, including Houston, Chicago, and Seattle have passed city ordinances to hold unscrupulous employers accountable. Wage theft is an illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work including; violating minimum wage laws, not paying overtime, forcing workers to work off the clock, and much more.
In October, ‘2014, John Chiang, California Controller, working with the state labor commissioner, is demanding restitution from suspected violators — and filing lawsuits, if necessary — under California’s Unclaimed Property Law by using a 55-year-old statute to compel immediate payment from unscrupulous businesses that have fleeced their employees of earned wages for years. John Chiang took office as State Treasurer in 2015.
What is the underground economy? This involves cash payments for goods, services and labor that deprives the state and local governments of an estimated $7 billion a year in tax revenue, according to 2011 legislative research report.
How to prevent wage theft? Employees should keep records of their hours and compare them to their pay. If there’s a consistent discrepancy, you are the victim of wage theft. At that point, your options are to contact the Labor Board but be aware that for every successful case, four more workers hold court orders who won’t see a dime.