California Controller John Chiang is cracking down on wage theft by invoking the state’s Unclaimed Property Law.
According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, more than 25 percent of Los Angeles County workers get paid in cash, which leaves them vulnerable to wage theft.
Chiang is now using a new tool to combat wage theft by employers, which is costing workers about $390 million a year. Chiang, working with the state’s labor commissioner, is demanding restitution from suspected violators.
He has said he will file lawsuits against the violators if necessary under California’s Unclaimed Property Law.
What is the Unclaimed Property Law?
This is a 55-year-old statute, which basically requires “holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office after there has been no customer contact for three years.
Chiang says state officials are going to use this law to force immediate payment from “unscrupulous businesses that have flexed their employees of earned wages for years.”
As part of “Operation Pay-Up” Chiang, for example, is suing a Los Angeles business, All-American Pet Co., alleging that is did not comply with an agreement to pay $15,600 in back wages to a single employee.
Hope for Low-Wage Workers?
The state’s action will hopefully help workers in low-paid jobs who are often the victims of wage theft. This is an unscrupulous act on the part of employers, which denies their fundamental right to be paid for hard work.
According to the Economic Roundtable, more than a quarter of workers in Los Angeles County get paid in cash, which makes it easier for their employers to shortchange them.
A lot of these are immigrant workers who count on multiple jobs to put food on the table. So, they are afraid to speak up against injustice because they fear retaliation, or worse, job loss.
The California employment law firm of Bisnar Chase has represented a number of workers who have been wronged by their employers.
If you have not received wages for work done or if you believe wage theft is occurring in your workplace, please understand that you have rights and we can be a valuable resource to help you stand up and fight this injustice.