PENALTIES FOR NON-PAYMENT OF WAGES

Current law imposes, independent from other penalties, a civil penalty on employers who fail to pay wages as provided in certain sections of the Labor Code.  The Labor Commissioner may recover these penalties, which amount to $100 for the initial violation and $200 plus 25% of the amount unlawfully withheld for subsequent violations.  Now, AB 673 gives employees the ability to bring a private action to either:  (i) Recover statutory penalties against the employer in a hearing before the Labor Commissioner; or (ii) Seek to enforce civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act.  They may not do both.

Lastly, SB 688 expands the Labor Commissioner’s authority regarding citations for wage violations.  Current law allows the Labor Commissioner to issue a citation and recover penalties, restitution of wages and liquidated damages from employers who pay employees less than the minimum wage.  SB 688 expands that authority, authorizing the Labor Commissioner to issue citations and recover amounts owed by an employer who has paid less than the wages set by contract, even if it was more than minimum wage.

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