Legislature Extends Authority of Local Governments to Enforce Local Wage Laws
August 16, 2016 by Christopher Hammer
Wage theft is a serious problem in California. In Los Angeles County alone approximately $26.6 million in wages is stolen from laborers every week. Because wage theft disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in California, including immigrant and low-wage workers, it can create extreme financial hardships for working families. To help fight back against illegal wage theft, California’s Legislature recently passed S.B. 1342. This new law gives local city and county governments the authority to enforce their subpoenas in superior court.
Fourteen local governments in California have already enacted minimum wage ordinances that go above and beyond the State’s requirements. Several of these local ordinances have their own enforcement mechanisms. One important enforcement tool is the subpoena power, which requires employers to appear and respond to claims against them. In the past, it was not uncommon for employers to simply disregard a subpoena and to never respond to wage theft claims. However, when S.B. 1342 goes into effect starting January 1, 2017, cities and counties will be able to enforce their subpoenas in superior court, and subject employers who do not comply with contempt of court and associated penalties. As the new law intends, this should create a strong incentive for employers to pay workers what they are owed.
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