Back in June, Los Angeles became one of the biggest cities in the U.S. to approve a minimum wage hike, increasing the minimum wage to $15 over the next five or so years. As cities across the U.S. follow Los Angeles’ lead and consider minimum wage increases, however, a new potential problem has arisen regarding enforcement.
Namely, some worry that an increasing number of employers will violate minimum wage laws because there is a lack of enforcement of them.
Summing up this issue, Labor Department Administrator David Weil has stated:
A lot of states are facing that challenge now… It is very important to pass those minimum wage increases … Then, how do we make sure workers really receive them?
A Closer Look at the Problem
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year, about 1.7 million workers in the U.S. were paid less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr). About 2 in every 3 of these workers were women.
The numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor are just as jaw-dropping. According to their data, in California and New York alone, roughly 560,000 violations of minimum wages laws are committed by employers every week. This works out to about $33 million in earnings that workers are cheated out of receiving.
What may be compounding the problem of enforcement are the facts that:
- The Labor Department only has about 1,000 investigators to enforce minimum wage laws – While the Labor Department has made great strides in its enforcement efforts (reportedly retrieving millions in back wages over the past year), there are more than 7 million employers in the U.S. to oversee. This has left a large gap in the enforcement arena, increasing the concerns that many more workers will be cheated out of minimum wages as more cities move to increase their minimum wage.
- Some workers may not know their rights or may be afraid to report employers – In fact, many of those who are illegally paid less than the minimum wage are immigrant workers who may not be aware of their rights, may not know who to report these violations to or, even more distressing, may be fearful to report these violations (because they fear retaliation from an employer, deportation, etc.).
While some cities have started to combat the enforcement problem by developing their own local enforcement authorities to investigate and oversee local employers, this solution is still considered to be “unorthodox” by some. It remains to be seen how this enforcement issue will be tackled.
As more news about this issue becomes available, we’ll bring you the latest updates in a future blog. Until then, share your opinions about this topic with us on Facebook & Google+.
Contact a Los Angeles Employment Attorney at Urbanic & Associates
If your employer has violated any of your rights as a California worker, you can turn to Los Angeles employment attorney at Urbanic & Associates for help defending your rights and pursuing justice. Since 2000, our lawyers have been dedicated, aggressive advocates for our clients, helping them stand up to even the most formidable opponents in any legal setting.
To find out more about your rights and start taking action now to protect them, call (310) 216-0900 or send our firm an email using the contact form on this page.
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