I recently came across a study by UCLA that found widespread violations of minimum wage and overtime laws in Los Angeles County. The study focused on low-wage workers who, when surveyed, stated that they had experienced some form of pay-related workplace violation and almost one in three reported being paid less than minimum wage and 80% reported not being for overtime. Furthermore, it was also reported that employees had been forced to work off the clock, not receiving proper meal breaks, and some had been forced to work despite having a workplace injury. Those working for restaurants also offered that employers or supervisors illegally pocketed all or part of their tips.
The report is part of a larger study (over a 5 year period), released last year, that examined the predicament of low-wage workers in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. The study also suggests that low-wage workers in Los Angeles County seldom benefit from workers’ compensation. The study offers that the reason for the pervasiveness of the abuses is that certain industries have embraced business strategies that involve widespread violations of labor laws. Proponents of immigration restrictions argued that the very presence of so many illegal immigrants creates a climate of exploitation.
These type of studies draws the attention of the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement and although all employers do not engage in this type of behavior it forces the DLSE to aggressively go after employers. I continue to press the issue that employers have to ensure that they are in compliance with the wage and hour laws. On a weekly basis we are investigating labor board claims and finding employers are STILL in violation. You need to check and re-check your policies and do not assume that your managers and supervisors are following policy. In addition, they have to understand that employees may agree to a practice that is illegal but after they leave they will file a claim everytime.