CALIFORNIA INVESTS $18 MILLION TO PROSECUTE WAGE THEFT « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California Penal Code section 487m criminalizes intentional Labor Code violations  – such as failing to timely pay all required wages (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, premium pay for missed breaks), requiring off-the-clock work, or taking workers’ tips — as felony grand theft if the underpaid wages exceed $950. For this section, “employee” includes an independent contractor and “employer” includes the hiring entity of an independent contractor. Conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to three years.

On February 16, 2024, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) launched an $18 million Workers’ Rights Enforcement Grant Program (the Grant Program) for local prosecutors to aggressively pursue employers who violate labor laws.

Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower stated: “We appreciate the legislature’s support in creating this funding source to incentivize the prosecution of wage theft.  This is a serious and persistent problem, which demands increased collaboration with government agencies and community leaders.  This grant program will help further our efforts to combat wage theft and unfair competition in the workplace.  We look forward to working with local prosecutors in addressing these important issues.”


The Grant Program underscores the importance for all California employers to know and apply proper pay practices.  Our firm can help with friendly, confidential wage audits, ranging from a small targeted sampling of pay records to extensive review of workplace wage-and-hour practices.

For further information, please contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

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Cindy Bamforth
March 8, 2024

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