California cracks down on wage theft by employers

OCTOBER 23, 2014, 5:11 PM

State regulators are wielding a new tool to combat the intractable problem of employer wage theft, which costs workers an estimated $390 million a year.

The California controller, working with the state labor commissioner, is demanding restitution from suspected violators – and filing lawsuits, if necessary – under California’s Unclaimed Property Law.

“We’re using a 55-year-old statute to compel immediate payment from unscrupulous businesses that have fleeced their employees of earned wages for years,” state Controller John Chiang said at a news conference in Fresno on Thursday.

Chiang has ordered a pair of firms, identified in a pilot project, to transfer any wages that have gone unpaid for more than a year to the state treasury. Then, the controller’s office can look for the recipients and pay them their overdue money.

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