The United States is often held up as a model for how a democratic society should function. Along with Constitutional rights like free speech and the right to due process, U.S. labor and employment laws also provide workers with many important rights and protections. For example each state provides workers with minimum wage and overtime protections which guarantee workers a livable wage and help ensure that they are compensated for all hours worked.
Unfortunately, there are many employers who fail to abide by these laws and who routinely and without consequence fail to fully compensate workers for the hours they work. In Los Angeles County statistics surrounding wage theft practices are especially alarming with a 2014 report by the University of California, Los Angeles Labor Center revealing that an estimated 655,000 workers are victims of wage theft each week.
The vast majority of wage theft victims work low-wage jobs and are “immigrants, women, and people of color.” While LA Mayor Eric Garcetti recently signed a bill increasing the city’s current $9 per hour minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020, little action has been taken to crack down on employers who fail to pay workers the current minimum wage.
Information from UCLA’s Labor Center, the non-profit Human Impact Partners and the LA branch of the Restaurant Opportunities Center reveals that the wage theft activities of these unscrupulous employers equate to more than $26 million each week. This staggering amount is money that is being stolen from hard-working and low-wage workers who are often marginalized and afraid to speak up.
Failing to pay workers a minimum wage and for overtime meal and rest breaks is illegal and workers in LA County who are or who have been the victims of wage theft have rights. An attorney who handles employment law matters can assist workers in taking legal action against employers who engage in these illegal employment practices. An attorney can assist workers in recovering back wages and in changing what for far too many LA employers has become the status quo.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Wage Theft Harms All of Us,” Hilda L. Solis, July 19, 2014
Al Jazeera America, “Los Angeles is ground zero for wage theft,” Melissa Chadburn, June 18, 2015