UCLA Labor Center

Labor Center

50 Years of Worker Justice

Gov. Brown Signs Landmark Wage Theft Bill

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California Gov. Jerry Brown talks about revisions to his budget, specifically related to his projected increase in spending on health care and teacher pensions, during a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. (Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, TCN - OUTS **

Photo Credit: Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT) 

This past weekend, Governor Jerry Brown just signed SB 588, the most comprehensive bill on wage theft to date. In 2013, a UCLA Labor Center and the National Employment Law Project study found that only 17% of workers who won their cases against their employers were able to collect any of their stolen wages. Sponsored by Senate leader Kevin de Leon, SB 588 gives the California Labor Commissioner more tools to collect employees’ stolen wages.

What will this new law do?

  • It targets deadbeat employers. Businesses that have an unpaid wage judgement against them must post a bond or else they open themselves up to a wage lien by the Labor Commissioner, preventing them from doing business.
  • It reduces the abuse of our corporate laws. Businesses can no longer use layers of subcontracts and unclear reporting relationships to deliberately make enforcing labor laws difficult. Additionally, individuals involved in wage theft will now be held accountable.
  • It empowers the Labor Commissioner to improve collections of stolen wages. This bill streamlines the collections process that has traditionally been so burdensome as to make it nearly impossible to collect unpaid wages.

Read full bill text.

This victory is the result of years of work and an incredible partnership between worker centers, community groups, policy groups, and unions, and it is a great step forward for workers to be able to receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

In case you missed it, check out these amazing recent news stories about wage theft:

September 11, 2015 – Los Angeles Times – California Lawmakers Approve Legislation to Combat Wage Theft

September 8, 2015 – KCRWThe Fight for Lost Pay After Years of Wage Theft

September 7, 2015 – KPCCWith Minimum Wage on the Rise, Labor Leaders Focus on Wage Theft

September 4, 2015 – Los Angeles TimesFew Wage Theft Victims Ever Get Their Back Pay

May 1, 2015 – NBC San Diego – Wage Theft: Companies Stealing from Workers in California

April 6, 2015 – Los Angeles TimesFew California Workers Win Back Pay in Wage-Theft Cases

Feb 16, 2015 – NBC Bay Area – California’s Wage Theft Problem

Learn more about wage theft.