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Wage Theft Enforcement in California

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California is leading what should become a federal law to crack down on wage theft:

The bill, known as SB 588, was sponsored by state Senator Kevin de León of Los Angeles. It would allow California’s labor commissioner to place a lien on the property of an employer cited for wage theft.

It would also help prevent cited employers from skipping out on paying penalties and back wages by requiring them to post a bond of at least $50,000 to continue doing business. It would also prohibit the company from closing down and re-opening with a different name.

“Stealing the pay of employees who don’t make that much money to begin with is unconscionable. It takes food off their tables and makes it difficult – if not impossible – to provide for their families,” said De León in an emailed statement. “It also violates the fundamental promise of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. With SB 588 we can give the Labor Commissioner the tools necessary to enforce the law for the workers and target the bad actors to level the playing field for honest businesses.”

As I’ve said repeatedly, the only way to deal with employers and corporations is to punish them where it hurts. Forcing employers to post bonds is one way to do that. For some, it wouldn’t matter that much because of their large amount of capital, but most of the employers engaging in wage theft are lower end businesses like nail salons. So this would threaten them with really hard times if they don’t comply. There is potential here to move employee rights forward in a meaningful way.

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