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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Politics Local

L.A. County To Create A New Wage Enforcement Office

The County Board of Supervisors voted to help enforce the new minimum wage laws.

With a note in his hands, Daniel Linares mouths the words silently as he reads in at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting hall in downtown L.A. on Tuesday. When he finally does speak out loud, he talks about his recent ordeal involving wage theft.

Linares, a truck driver at Pacific Nine Transportations, has spoken to the Board of Supervisors three times to request a policing entity overseeing the enforcement of work-place regulations. More than 50 workers from L.A. County with similar encounters attended the meeting as well. It now looks like they’ve gotten what they wanted. 

The County Supervisors voted today to create an office to help enforce L.A. County’s minimum wage law. The ordinance that creates the office has received a wide support from workers of all industries, especially those working in minimum wages. 

Wage theft includes a variety of misconducts, such as not paying legal minimums or over time, not giving breaks, paying under-the-table, or inappropriately classifying employees as contractors to avoid paying benefits. 

Supervisor Hilda Solis, the author of the ordinance, said that it is a result of “raising the minimum wage.“

Solis added that it’s also an opportunity for small businesses, many of which are owned by immigrants who may not fully understand the law due to language barriers or other issues. The new office will also provide education on what laws they should be abiding by.

Additionally, the new office will make an effort to figure out the exact number of businesses that currently exist in the incorporated parts of the County. According to Solis, there are about 5,000 business registered in the entire county and another 15,000 that are not. By having the businesses registered and properly licensed, the employees would be able to ensure that their employers are playing by the rules.

However, while all supervisors acknowledge the importance of policing the law, including wage laws, everyone isn't on the same page when it comes to who should provide the supervision. The ordinance received four out of five votes, with Supervisor Michael Antonovich abstaining. He believes that it is the state government’s obligation to enforce wage regulations, and the $408,000 needed to set up the new office would be better spent on social service programs. 

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