Workers face barriers to claiming unpaid wages - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

Workers face barriers to claiming unpaid wages

Posted: Updated:

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Workers face numerous obstacles in claiming unpaid wages, including non-enforcement of the city of San Diego's minimum wage and earned sick leave law, a coalition of groups said Tuesday.

A report from the Center on Policy Initiatives, the Employee Rights Center of San Diego and the San Diego State University Department of Sociology found that only 82 "wage theft'' claims were filed with the state labor commissioner last year. Based on U.S. Department of Labor data, the number of actual violations could have been in the thousands, according to the report.

The report singled out the office of Mayor Kevin Faulconer for criticism, contending that city staff spent last year informing business owners about the new law and its posting requirements, but not taking enforcement actions. Potential claimants were referred to the state labor commissioner, according to the report.

"Widespread wage theft is robbing hard-working San Diegans of income they earned,'' said CPI Executive Director Kyra Greene.

"The Labor Commissioner herself has said her office lacks the resources to tackle this crisis alone, and she urged the city to enforce its own law,'' Greene said. "This report demonstrates why the mayor must act now to protect San Diego workers and law-abiding businesses by fighting wage theft.

In response, the mayor's office issued a statement that said, "On September 2, 2016, the city's Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage implementing ordinance became effective designating the Office of the City Treasurer as the enforcement office. Since that time, all minimum wage laws have been

The city of San Diego's web page on the ordinance provides three options for workers who feel like they've been underpaid -- filing a form that comes
in five languages, suing the employer or filing a claim with the state labor commissioner.

The law raised the minimum wage above the statewide level and required businesses to give employees a minimum of five sick days a year. With another uptick on Jan. 1, the minimum wage in San Diego is $11.50 an hour, one dollar above the state standard.

A survey performed for the study found that workers declined to pursue their claims, or waited, out of fear of retaliation, doubts about success, and a lack of information on their rights, the law, and the process. To a smaller extent, language barriers and immigration status played a role.

The report calls for the city to collaborate with the labor commissioner to conduct proactive, targeted investigations at work sites, look into reports of retaliation, fund outreach by organizations in close touch with the community and provide assistance to people filing claims.

  • Feedback Form

    Questions or suggestions about this story? Message KUSI News below:

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for your feedback.  We value your opinion!


  • Sign up here for breaking news email alerts

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.

Powered by Frankly


4575 Viewridge Ave. San Diego, CA 92123
Newsroom: 858-571-NEWS (6397)
Turko Files: 858-571-FILE (3453)
Business offices: 858-571-5151

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 KUSI. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.