Fighting Wage Theft and Economic Inequality in Canada

The Toronto Star discusses the fight against wage theft in Canada’s largest city, which, sadly, faces similar problems to those that Southern Californians have long been struggling to overcome. The article mentions the challenges faced by one of the Wage Justice Center’s clients, Minor.

Check out the article here.

$190,000 in Back Pay Secured for Rosemead Restaurant Workers

The Wage Justice Center, representing California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su, reached a $190,000 settlement for three workers who were victims of wage theft while employed at a Rosemead restaurant, Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa. The settlement comes after the owners faced a lawsuit for fraudulently transferring the restaurant’s ownership to avoid paying the workers their back pay.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office teamed up with the Wage Justice Center to file a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in June 2015 against the three owners and their corporations to enforce payment of the August 2013 orders.

The Wage Justice Center specializes in unraveling corporate schemes by employers, and holding them accountable for wage theft.

“This settlement shows that employers who cheat can run but can’t hide,” said Labor Commissioner Julie Su. “Corporate shell games like these are common responses to wage judgments, deprive workers of wages they rightly deserve, and we will take every measure to stop them.”

The three employees, who worked as kitchen staff, regularly worked 12-hour shifts, six days per week with no overtime, meal periods, or rest breaks. They were paid $875 to $900 twice per month, with no pay stubs detailing their hours or lawful deductions. Each worker filed wage claims in May 2012 and January 2013, and won judgments in September 2013 ordering the owners to pay wages owed as well as liquidated damages and penalties.

As a result of the lawsuit settlement, the owners delivered a cashier’s check for $150,000 to the Labor Commissioner’s Office to pay the three workers’ back wages. The other $40,000 owed will be paid in six installments beginning August 1.

See the official press release here.

Come to Our Spring Garden Party with Kevin Kish!

WageJustice2016GardenEvite

Save The Date for WJC’s Annual Garden Party

Save the Date

 

Mark your calendars! The Wage Justice Center cordially invites you to our annual garden party on May 15, 2016. We enjoy the opportunity for our staff, Board Members, funders, community advocates, clients and supporters to mingle and build connections. We are especially honored to have Kevin Kish, Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as this year’s featured speaker.

More details and a formal invitation to follow, but for now, SAVE THE DATE!!

Working “Off the Clock”- How Employers Steal Wages

Check out this short film on Wage Theft by Brave New Films!

Victory! SB 588 Signed into Law

On Sunday, October 11, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed an historic worker’s rights bill into law. SB 588, the Fair Day’s Pay Act, will give millions of dollars back to working individuals and their families by cracking down on wage theft.

Wage theft is a pervasive trend in the low-wage industries in which many low-wage and immigrant workers toil. It is the illegal practice of not paying workers for all, or any, of their work.

While California has some of the most protective laws in the country, low-wage workers are not immune to wage theft. In Los Angeles alone, low-wage workers lose $26.2 million in wage theft violations every week, making it the wage theft capital of the country.

Under previous state law, employers could get out of paying employees stolen wages in many different ways, by exploiting loopholes in existing law. For over three years, the Wage Justice Center, along with 60 other organizations across California, fought to pass a bill that would close these loopholes in existing state labor laws.

The Fair Day’s Pay Act creates new tools needed to put stolen wages back into workers’ pockets. It sends a strong message to employers that California supports its workers, their families, and businesses that play by the rules rather than exploit the system.

The Wage Justice Center is looking forward to implementing the Fair Day’s Pay Act to ensure that all California workers are paid fairly.

Wage Justice Center Fights Shell Corporations

The Los Angeles Times recently published an important article highlighting some of the root causes of the current wage theft crisis.

Quoting our director, the article discusses the rampant problem of shell corporations.

 

Los Angeles and Long Beach Port Truck Drivers File Class-Action Lawsuit to Recover Stolen Wages

The Wage Justice Center filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 100 port truck drivers who were mis-classified as “independent contractors” and systematically denied basic labor protections.

The drivers allege serious violations, including nonpayment of minimum wages, by a cluster of intertwined companies operating under various names, including: “QTS, Inc.”, “WinWin Logistics Inc.”, and “Laca Express Inc.”

The lawsuit, filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on February 22, 2013, alleges that drivers worked punishing hours while frequently earning less than minimum wage due to illegal paycheck deductions.

The lawsuit also alleges a violation of a new state law that prohibits willful mis-classification of employees as independent contractors for the purpose of evading labor protections.

Plaintiff Cuahutemoc Cabuto explains: “I filed this lawsuit because I wanted to fight back against the injustices at this company. I work all the time, day and night, and have no money left to take home after all the deductions the company takes out of my paycheck.”

The vast majority of truck drivers working in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest port complex in North America, are classified as independent contractors. Advocacy groups such as the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (“LAANE”) and the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports contend that most of these drivers are mis-classified.

Driver mis-classification allows law-breaking companies to reduce costs by 30%-40%, as they do not pay payroll taxes, giving them an unfair advantage over law-abiding companies. Additionally, drivers are deprived of key rights, including minimum wage, unemployment, and the right to form a union.

Workers like those who filed this lawsuit are demanding fair treatment and respect for their basic legal and human rights.

Car Wash Workers Stand Up Against Melrose Strip Car Wash

On October 26, 2012, the Wage Justice Center helped five workers at Melrose Strip Auto Detailing & Car Wash–located along a posh section of the famous Melrose Strip–file a lawsuit for years of unpaid wages and other labor violations.

The workers are asserting claims for unpaid minimum and overtime wages, and denial of the minimum rest and meal breaks – these are basic rights of every California worker. Many workers report being paid a flat daily rate that amounted to well below our minimum wage.

On November 9, 2012, several other workers joined the case, bringing the total claimants to nine. Workers are seeking back-wages for themselves and all of their co-workers, as well as an injunction that would prevent similar labor violations in the future.

Today, November 28, 2012, the workers stood up to the car wash publicly, announcing their lawsuit at a press conference and helping identify management for the purpose of serving the complaint.

We are honored to stand beside these brave individuals who have taken a stand against exploitation in LA’s carwash industry.

Wage Justice Wins Successor Case

Wage Justice Center wins a victory in successor liability case.

On November 1st, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Ralph Dau upheld a claim seeking to hold a machine shop liable for wages owed by a successor business. The employee’s claim stemmed from unpaid overtime wages that was already found to be owed by the California Labor Commissioner.

Unfortunately, the company ordered to pay these wages (“High Performance Tool Grinding, Inc.”) has ceased doing business and is listed as a “suspended” corporation by the secretary of state.

Despite this status, the machine shop continues to operate with largely the same employees, customer-base and management, under an almost identical name (“High Performance Tool Grinding, LLC” ).

While our client’s claim was pending before the Labor Commissioner’s office, the assets of High Performance Tool Grinding, Inc were sold to High Performance Tool Grinding, LLC.

The Wage Justice Center filed suit in July seeking to have the new company held responsible for paying the wages owed to our client. The court’s recent ruling allows this case to move forward in the face of the company’s request that the case be dismissed.