On March 6, the Labor Commissioner announced filing two lawsuits against three Los Angeles carwash businesses alleging multiple wage theft violations and seeking more than $2 million in unpaid wages, penalties and damages.
As HRWatchdog reported earlier this week, the state Labor Commissioner is making wage theft prevention a top priority.
“We will use every tool available to ensure employees pay their workers what is owed for the labor that is provided. Employers cannot be allowed to reap the benefit from the labor of their workers without providing them with at least the basic pay required by law,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.
And the Labor Commissioner has more tools available than ever before:
- HRWatchdog just reported on the Labor Commissioner’s creation of a Criminal Investigation Unit to target employers who perpetrate “wage theft.”
- The state Department of Industrial Relations launched the interagency Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) on January 1. The LETF aims to “combat the underground economy” by cracking down on businesses that do not follow the state’s labor laws, including hiring employees off the books and paying them under the table.
The lawsuits against the carwashes allege violations of minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping laws, and failure to issue itemized wage deduction statements as required by law. One of the lawsuits also contains allegations of meal and rest period violations.
Labor Commissioner Su argued that the failure to accurately record time and provide an itemized statement left the workers with “no way to verify if the pay they received covered all hours worked. This routine practice by the employers is nothing less than an act of wage theft.”
Author: Gail Cecchettini Whaley
HR Watchdog, HRCalifornia’s Employment Law Blog, © California Chamber of Commerce