Sunday, October 11, 2015, proved to be a historic day for workers across California, as Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law a bill that will crack down on employers who, for decades, have been stealing wages from workers’ paychecks. This is truly a landmark victory–SB 588, the Fair Day’s Pay Act, will give millions of dollars back to working individuals and their families.
For over two decades, KIWA has supported low-wage workers who are victims of wage theft. Wage theft is when an employee earns less money than his or her employer is legally required to pay (learn more at our wage theft FAQ) Through our Worker Empowerment Clinic, we have been able to assist workers in not only filing wage theft claims, but also working alongside them to win their cases.
In fact, Los Angeles is the capital of wage theft in the U.S., where $26.2 million is stolen from low-wage workers every week. Through our Worker Empowerment Clinic, we win almost every case that we file. However, even after winning wage theft cases many workers never see a dime of what they are owed. Under previous State law, employers could get out of paying employees stolen wages in many different ways, such as changing the corporate name or hiding behind subcontractors.
For over three years, KIWA, together with 60 other organizations across California, has fought to pass a bill that would address these loopholes in the State’s labor law. Authored by Senator Kevin De Leon, the Fair Day’s Pay Act will create new tools needed to put stolen wages back into workers pockets. At the same time, it will allow honest employers to finally compete against companies that have been ignoring the law.
Together with our allies and partners, we are working to ensure every worker in Los Angeles and California is paid fairly, while also holding deadbeat employers accountable for their unethical practices. The passage of SB 588 sends a strong message that California supports its workers, and companies that play by the rules.