- Mike Blount
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, May 18, 2021) – A new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) sheds light on the need for district attorneys and other public prosecutors to bring forward cases involving wage theft and other employer-committed crimes against workers. The report suggests criminal prosecution of employer crimes against workers is likely to deter similar violations by other employers, particularly since civil enforcement tends to only recover back wages owed to employees “essentially converting workers’ wages into an interest-free loan to the employer.”
“We need to actually enforce labor laws in this country and address the crimes committed against ordinary workers every single day with the urgency it deserves,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “While AB 1003 is about deterring bad actors from committing wage theft, this legislation also makes it absolutely clear that prosecutors can go after employers who knowingly steal from their workers.”
Gonzalez’s AB 1003 would increase the criminal penalties for predatory employers who intentionally steal their workers’ hard-earned wages by fraudulent or other unlawful means. Under AB 1003, intentional theft of wages, tips, benefits or compensation –– over $950 for one employee and over $2,350 for two or more employees in any 12 consecutive month period –– would be punishable as grand theft. Prosecutors would ultimately decide if they want to charge the employers with a misdemeanor or felony.
According to the EPI report, minimum wage violations in the 10 most populous states including California affected 2.4 million low-wage employees. These workers reported losing an average of $3,300 per year, or nearly a quarter of their earned wages. An additional study revealed Black, Latino, undocumented and women experienced higher rates of wage theft than other groups.
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov