Gonzalez Bill to Send Employers Who Intentionally Commit Wage Theft to Prison Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, June 29, 2021) – Wage theft is more common than any other form of theft combined, cheating California workers out of billions of dollars from their paychecks each year. Today, Assembly Bill 1003 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to strengthen the criminal penalties for employers who intentionally steal wages from their workers was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee. 
 
“There have been far too many company executives who intentionally steal from their workers without any accountability. It’s time they be treated like any other thief," Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “AB 1003 is about deterring bad actors from committing such egregious crimes and ensuring employers face real consequences for intentional wage theft.” 
 
AB 1003 would make the intentional theft of wages, benefits or compensation of over $950 for one employee and over $2,350 for two or more employees in any 12 consecutive month period punishable as grand theft. Prosecutors would have the discretion to charge the employers with either a misdemeanor or felony.
 
“An owner had me as a W2 employee, but would clock me out when I wasn’t with a client," said Georgette B., a licensed esthetician. "I was not paid for setting up or arriving 30 minutes early to work or cleaning up.”
 
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the majority of wage theft victims are Latinos, women, and immigrant workers. EPI estimates that wage theft costs workers across the United States up to $15 billion each year in minimum wage violations alone, compared to $12.7 billion in losses per year from robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and auto theft combined. In California, minimum wage violations alone account for nearly $2 billion in stolen wages from employees annually.
 
A 2015 study conducted by the Little Hoover Commission urged the Legislature to reassess existing penalties for white collar crimes and make changes to ensure that rewards from breaking the law do not outweigh the penalties imposed if caught breaking the law. AB 1003 targets employers who intentionally choose to steal from their employees, knowing that existing fines will be less costly than paying their workers the money they’ve earned. 
 
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov