California employers who steal wages from their employees and independent contractors can be brought to justice and be forced to pay the wages that are rightfully earned. Now, under a new law passed by the State Assembly, employers who intentionally steal wages from their employees can go to jail. See news report here. California courts are likely to interpret the word "intentional" to mean willful and with reckless disregard for the rights of their employees. So, California may see a number of employers go to jail in the future. Theft of wages is worse than ordinary theft since workers need their earnings to support themselves and their families. If you have had your wages stolen by your employer, you should seek justice and consult with dedicated Wage Theft attorneys like the ones at Guardian Litigation Group.
The new criminal penalties apply to ALL employers including businesses with only one or several employees. "Wages'' are defined to include wages, tips, benefits and all other compensation due to workers. The new law makes it a crime for an employer to steal over $950 from one employee and/or to steal over $2,350 from two or more employees over any 12-month period. These thefts are now considered to be "grand theft" which is a crime punishable here in California as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. As the news article linked above states, conviction for misdemeanor grand theft is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year. If conviction is for felony grand theft, then the punishment can be imprisonment from 16 months to up to three years. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2022.
Employers can steal wages from their employees in a number of nefarious ways and wage theft plagues nearly every industry. Examples of wage theft include:
- Plain failure or refusal to pay earned wages
- Paying wages with checks that do not clear the bank -- aka "bounced checks"
- Refusal or failure to issue final paychecks when an employee quits or is terminated
- Refusal or failure to pay the minimum wage
- Stealing employee tips
- Failure to pay the proper amount of overtime
- Requiring "off-the-clock" work -- even if the time is only several minutes
- Improper "time-clock-rounding"
- Failure to pay penalties for missed or shortened meal and rest breaks
- Failure to properly reimburse employees for expenses required for their jobs
- Taking improper, unlawful and illegal deductions from paychecks
- Failure to remit payment for unused paid vacation and sick days
If you have experienced any of these forms of wage theft, you can sue your employer for compensation. If your employer has intentionally committed wage theft, your employer could go to jail.
Contact Experienced California Wage and Hour Attorneys
For more information, contact the experienced wage and hour attorneys at Guardian Litigation Group. We have the tools and legal experience necessary to protect you and to recover your stolen wages. Our Mission is to provide unparalleled legal services for our clients. We can be reached via our contact page or by phone at (949) 569-9006.