To Combat Wage Theft, San Jose Weighs Local Ordinance

By Jennifer Wadsworth / April 15, 2015


Taking a cue from Santa Clara County, San Jose is considering adopting a wage theft ordinance. The city rule would deny permits, licenses and government contracts to businesses with pending wage theft violations.

In a proposal submitted to the Rules and Open Government Committee, City Council members Don Rocha, Margie Matthews, Ash Kalra and Magdalena Carrasco say local enforcement would will regulatory gaps that leave thousands of low-wage workers under-paid with little recourse.

They share the story of a live-in caregiver, Priscilla Soriano, who worked 12-hour days six days a week, but never got paid overtime. In 2011, she filed a complaint with the state Labor Commission, which ruled that the employer owed her $64,904 in unpaid wages.

Between 2011 and 2014, nearly 1,100 San Jose-based businesses were slapped with wage theft judgments, according to Santa Clara County Superior Court records cited in the Rules memo. Women, immigrants and anyone working a low-wage job are the most at-risk.

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