UCLA Labor Center

Health Impact Assessment of the Proposed Los Angeles Wage Theft Ordinance

2014 / Fabiola Santiago, Brooke Staton, Natalia Garcia, Jill Marucut, Tia Koonse

Human Impact Partners examines the health impact of wage theft in the city of Los Angeles. A partnership with the Los Angeles Coalition Against Wage Theft.

To date, efforts to advocate for a wage theft ordinance focus exclusively on its economic benefits, but the topic has not been viewed through a public health lens. In fall 2013, Human Impact Partners and the coalition initiated a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) exploring the extent to which the proposed ordinance provisions would impact the health of workers and their families. An HIA is a systematic tool that draws on a range of data sources, research, and stakeholder input to increase understanding of how a program or policy will impact the health of the community, and increase consideration of health and equity in decision-making.

The findings of this HIA include:

  • Workers lose an average of $2,070 annually.
  • Low income leads to poor living conditions, impeding workers from affording safe and quality housing, maintaining food security, and other living necessities.
  • Inadequate living conditions produce high levels of stress.
  • Wage theft reduces income necessary to provide for the family, resulting in children less likely to succeed in school and more likely to experience developmental delays.
  • Increased levels of stress leave workers feeling anxious, worried, and often times depressed.
  • High levels of stress result in poor sleeping patterns—sleep deprivation also leads to poor mental and socio-emotional health.
  • Stress harms family connections. The combination of a poor sense of self-sufficiency, poor living conditions, and high levels of stress taxes relationships with spouses or partners and children; this leads to poor family well-being.