California Labor Commissioner Issues $2.2 Million in Wage Theft Citations

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 11, 2015

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su issued more than $2.2 million in citations to the owners of three residential care facilities for what were deemed "egregious" wage theft violations.

Wage theft generally entails a number of wage and hour and payroll violations, including making employees work off-the-clock, denying them earned overtime pay, a final paycheck or expecting them to work through legally protected breaks. In California, the wage theft prevention notice also includes information on denying employees earned paid sick days.

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) investigated Fairhill Castle LLC and its owners for minimum wage, overtime, meal period and workers' compensation violations. The investigation, which covered practices from September 2013 to August 2014, showed that the company and its owners forced nine caregivers at its residential care facilities to work 24-hour shifts, six to seven days a week, for $1.25 to $1.80 an hour.

The DIR issued citations for $1.3 million in unpaid wages and premiums, over $700,000 in liquidated damages and over $170,000 in civil penalties. Violations were also found regarding a failure to keep workers' compensation coverage, which resulted in individual liability for the Managing Member of the company who exerted daily control over the facilities' operations.

In a press release, DIR Director Christine Baker warned: "Employers who deny their workers the pay they are rightfully owed will be held accountable to remedy the issue and restore wages due."

Wage theft enforcement is a priority for DIR and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is a division of DIR. The agencies have launched a statewide public awareness campaign, "Wage Theft Is a Crime," to educate workers of their rights, targeting linguistically and ethnically diverse populations.