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Matthew A. Kaufman has successfully represented employees in the areas of Family Medical Leave, Disability Discrimination and Wage & Commissions disputes for more than 20 years

Push to combat wage theft begins in Los Angeles

It can be hard to make ends meet sometimes and many people work long hours just to pay the bills and keep food on the table. But what happens when those wages don't get paid? All too often, employers get away with paying too little, or forcing employees to work overtime without pay. Some even charge their employees for work-related expenses such as their uniform. However, in a bid to crack down on this sort of behavior, two councilmen in Los Angeles are working to introduce a new city ordinance.

Their hope is that the ordinance would serve as an extra weapon in the war against wage theft. Details have not yet been determined, but several suggestions have been put forward. Thoughts include the revocation of licenses for businesses found to be at fault and an increase in protection for workers who are whistleblowers in regard to reporting violations. Some cities, such as Seattle and Chicago have already introduced local laws to combat the problem of wage theft. With higher rates of this crime than even New York, Los Angeles could benefit from following suit.

State rules prohibiting wage theft are already in place, but unfortunately they do not always help workers to recover the wages they are owed. Furthermore, the process of challenging employers for this crime is often a lengthy process with little promise of success. Nevertheless, this is not the first time the city has seen a push for a new ordinance of this nature. A similar one was drafted almost five years ago, but disappeared. The councilmen pushing for change are now asking to revive this motion.

If this ordinance goes through, it could be good news for many workers in California. However, in the meantime it is still vital to challenge employers if you feel you are being poorly treated or underpaid. An attorney can help you understand your rights and build your case so you can pursue the wages you worked for and are owed.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. councilmen push for ordinance to crack down on wage theft," Emily Alpert Reyes, June 24, 2014

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