California enacted SB 1342, which allows local jurisdictions to use the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to enforce all city and county minimum wage laws, to issue subpoenas, and to report noncompliance to the local court in order to enforce any local wage laws.
The state indicated in the law that wage theft is prevalent among immigrant and low-wage workers and even admitted that Los Angeles County has been dubbed to be the “wage theft capital” of the United States with approximately $26.6 million in wages stolen from laborers every week. Further, it cited that 30% of low-wage workers in Los Angeles receive less than the minimum wage and 88.5 percent of workers are victims of wage theft is some way.
Local wage ordinances and enforcement are an effective means of combating wage theft and this law, according to the law, which was intended to provide local governments the enforcement tools necessary to deal with wage theft. In fact, the law explicitly stated that, “[c]ities and counties are encouraged to develop and enact specific measures to target and remedy wage theft.”
According to GovDocs Compliance Counsel, Anne Jakala, Esq.:
“This is in direct contrast to other states who appear to discourage or preempt local jurisdictions from enacting their own labor ordinances. We will continue to track this issue in other states, as typically California tends to set the trend in the labor law realm – we will have to see if that is true for state support of local wage ordinances. “