“…the wage claims adjudication unit â€” the largest unit within the labor commissionerâ€™s office that handles more than 35,000 claims a year brought by workers alleging they were denied proper wages â€” in 2012 heard wage claims within an average of 179 days from the date of filing, the shortest amount of time since 2008…If employees are retaliated against for cooperating with the state in a workplace investigation, the agency investigates those cases immediately…”
The California Labor Commissionerâ€™s office last year assessed more than $51 million in civil penalties against businesses flouting labor laws, making for record-breaking results that have much to do with the officeâ€™s move away from conducting broad employer sweeps to instead zeroing in on bad actors, the agencyâ€™s chief told Law360 on Thursday.
The agency, led by State Labor Commissioner Julie Su since April 2011, focuses primarily on adjudicating wage theft claims, inspecting workplaces for wage and hour violations, and investigating retaliation complaints, and the agencyâ€™s report in May revealed that the officeâ€™s increasingly targeted efforts are paying off.
The agencyâ€™s bureau of field enforcement in 2012 uncovered more than $16 million in unpaid minimum and overtime wages owed to workers in the state, more than any previous year on record, and the more than $51 million in total civil penalties assessed in 2012 marked a 150 percent increase from 2010.
But an even more telling finding is how much the bureau has improved on workplace inspections resulting in civil penalty citations. Out of every 10 inspections, eight led to citations last year, resulting in a citation rate of 80 percent, a big increase from an average citation rate of 48 percent between 2002 and 2010, according to the report.