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Report Reveals Record-breaking Results for Labor Law Enforcement in California

In a report released in May 2013, Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su announced that labor law enforcement under Governor Brown in the first two years of his Administration resulted in more minimum and overtime wages found owing to California workers and more monetary penalties for illegal business practices than in any previous year in the past decade. In addition, the Labor Commissioner's improved targeting has protected law-abiding businesses from indiscriminate investigations. This effort reflects the Brown Administration’s commitment to protecting California’s workers through the enforcement of laws targeting the state’s underground economy. 

Key findings of the report, “State of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement”, which evaluates labor law enforcement activity by the Labor Commissioner’s office in the first two years under the Brown Administration, include:

  • Minimum wage - over $3 million unpaid minimum wages assessed in 2012 – more than any previous year on record, and an increase of 462% from minimum wage assessments in 2010.
  • Unpaid overtime – more than $13 million unpaid overtime wages assessed in 2012 – more than any previous year on record, and a 642% increase from 2010.
  • Civil penalties - over $51 million in civil penalties assessed in 2012 against employers for violating labor laws – more than any previous year in a decade, and a 150% increase from 2010. 
  • Better targeting-In 2012, the Labor Commissioner’s office had the highest rate of civil penalty citations (80%) in the past decade (compared to an average citation rate of only 48% from 2002 to 2010).
  • Public works - over $25 million in wages assessed and civil penalties issued on public works projects in 2012 – the highest amount since 2002.
  • Streamlined processing - the fastest application review process for business licenses and registration applications in the past five years – 50% faster than in 2010.

“What Commissioner Su and her staff have achieved is a testament to her leadership and the Administration’s more targeted and efficient use of resources,” stated Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, is a division of DIR.

Commissioner Su added, “The report confirms that smart, focused labor law enforcement addresses abuses in the underground economy, protects working people, gives honest businesses a chance to prosper, and maximizes the State's resources. We are uncovering violations that put honest businesses at a competitive disadvantage and working to put hard-earned wages into workers' pockets because wages represent food on the table and dignity on the job.”  

The report details the accomplishments of the Labor Commissioner’s office in 2011 and 2012 across all of the Division’s enforcement units.

Among its wide-ranging enforcement responsibilities, the Labor Commissioner’s office adjudicates wage claims, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for various businesses and educates the public on labor laws.

(Source: DIR News Release, May 22, 2013 * For media inquiries contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046)