Some prosecutors work to address wage theft in California
Employers in California must follow the laws regarding employee pay. If they try to skirt these laws in order to keep money for themselves, they could be charged with wage theft.
What is wage theft in California?
Grand theft of wages is a white-collar felony crime in California. If you are convicted of wage theft, you will face a prison sentence of three years. You may also have to pay restitution.
Some examples of wage theft include failing to pay overtime, purposeful worker misclassification, paying an employee under the table and failing to withhold mandatory payroll deductions.
California’s wage theft problem
However, wage theft is not always criminally prosecuted. Often, workers who suspect wage theft file civil claims rather than taking the matter to the police. The Labor Commissioner’s office handles wage theft cases administratively or in civil court.
But that is starting to change. Some prosecutors in the state have created units that will specifically address wage theft and other criminal labor violations.
Prosecutors believe that the possibility of jail time, having to pay a significant amount of restitution and the damage to the reputation an employer would suffer if they are convicted of wage theft may serve as a deterrence.
A white-collar crime like wage theft can cost you your entire business. After all, you cannot continue to run a business from jail and if the restitution you must pay is significant you may need to declare bankruptcy.
To avoid the immediate and future consequences of a white-collar crime like wage theft, you will need to develop a defense strategy that puts your best interests first.