July 27, 2016
LOS ANGELES – Chair Hilda L. Solis announces that Governor Brown signed SB 1342 which explains the authority of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to swiftly address wage theft and other violations. The bill clarifies that current law allows a county board of supervisors or city council to delegate its subpoena powers to a county department head or city official to investigate allegations of wage theft or other violations of local ordinances. This measure becomes effective January 1, 2017.
“It is essential that the Board of Supervisors is empowered to address allegations of wage theft and other violations,” said Chair Solis. “We are best suited to respond effectively at the local level to get the ball rolling on investigations and follow through with our local business groups, community-based organizations, and law enforcement community. We continue to coordinate our efforts with our state, federal, and other local partners as we all work to end wage theft that damages our regional economy.”
In Los Angeles County, it is estimated that over 700,000 low-wage workers are losing around 12% of earnings every week due to wage theft, which amounts to $2,000 per year for workers getting by on little over $16,500 a year. Los Angeles County is the national capital of wage theft with rates surpassing New York or Chicago.
Under the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the County is able to move quickly to provide relief to honest businesses and investigate violations through its Wage Enforcement Program within the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. The program is designed to educate businesses and workers and also have strong enforcement power to prevent businesses that deliberately skirt the law from dragging down our region.
LA County resident and former garment worker Erika de la Merced said, “As a garment worker, I experienced wage theft at my workplace. Part of the reason my employer was able to get away with it was by misrepresenting investigators as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and by hiding or destroying documents about how much he was paying us. This is why I fought hard to make sure that workers like me had strong tools in LA County to ensure wage laws were being enforced. I’m excited that Governor Brown signed into law SB 1342, which will further strengthen our local enforcement tools and ensure that employers are abiding by our laws, and most importantly, that workers like me are able to receive our hard earned wages to support our families and our communities.”
Felipe Calzada, a Los Angeles janitor, added, “It’s important that local agencies have the power to fully investigate wage claims. In our industry, wage theft happens a lot, and it’s important for some owners to know that they have to cooperate with investigations.”
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