Wage Recovery Penalties Continue to Increase
Wage Recovery Penalties Continue to Increase

Continuing in a trend that started in 2013, the California Legislature focused considerable time and effort on expanding liability and increasing penalties under several existing laws for 2015. Assembly Bill 1723 amended Labor Code section 1197.1 by expanding the penalty for the failure to pay employees minimum wage to include penalties under Labor Code section 203 in addition to liquidated damages in the amount of the unpaid wages, recovery of the unpaid wages and pay period violations for each employee of $100.00 for the first pay period and $250.00 per pay period thereafter. AB 1723 permits the Labor Commissioner to issue a citation for all of the available penalties, wages and liquidated damages. If the citation is uncontested, it may be entered as a judgment in the superior court in which the person assessed has or had a place of business. Any employer or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent or employee of another person who pays or causes to be paid to any employee a wage less than the minimum can be held liable under this law.

Assembly Bill 2074 amended Labor Code section 1194.2 to allow a longer time period within which an employee can seek to recover liquidated damages for the failure to pay minimum wage. Prior case law held that such liquidated damages claims were subject to a one year statute of limitations. AB 2074 provides that a lawsuit seeking to recover liquidated damages for minimum wage violations can be filed at any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations that applies to the underlying wage claim, which is three years.

Assembly Bill 2288, the Child Labor Protection Act of 2014, provides additional penalties in connection with the employment of minors. The law provides a penalty in an amount of not less than $25,000.00 and not more than $50,000.00 for each violation regarding the employment of a minor 12 years of age or younger, defined as a “Class A” violation. In addition, AB 2288 states that the statute of limitations for any claim arising under the act shall be tolled until an individual has reached the age of 18. The new law prohibits any discrimination against an individual because he or she filed a claim that arose while the individual was a minor and provides for the possibility of treble damages in connection with such discrimination.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2015.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department, at (310) 281-6348.


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