CAUTIONARY TALES EPISODE 12 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


646,000 Reasons to Pay Final Wages on Time

Continuing her “Wage Theft is a Crime” crusade against employers who fail to pay workers all compensation in a timely fashion, the Labor Commissioner announced citations against Vista Santa Rosa, Inc., a San Bernardino farm labor contractor, and seven of its client employers, who failed to give 1,374 Coachella Valley seasonal workers their final pay on time.

The Commissioner is not claiming that the company failed to pay workers what they were owed, only that it paid them too late, consistently by more than 72 hours. Her office thus assessed a total of $646,875 in waiting time penalties for a period of two years.

Under Labor Code 203, an employer is required to pay final wages, including accrued vacation and earned commissions, on the employee’s last day of work if the employer is terminating the employee, and within 72 hours if the employee resigns. Employers who fail to timely provide this final pay are on the hook for continuing pay at the worker’s daily rate until final pay is given to the worker, up to 30 additional days.

In the first year under investigation, the employer had been Jose Luis Gomez, Jr., who incorporated Vista Santa Rosa, Inc. in the second year. The Commissioner’s office found both Mr. Gomez personally and his company were liable for the penalties.

Commissioner Julie Su stated: “Delaying final paychecks is wage theft and in this case, puts significant pressure on seasonal workers to abandon their pay or wait and jeopardize competitive job and lodging openings.” She highlighted that “Bringing attention to this issue during the grape harvest should deter farm labor contractors and growers from this wage theft practice and help ensure their workers are paid on time.”

As in many other instances we have written about, the Labor Commissioner learned about the situation after employees sought help from a non-profit workers’ organization, in this case, California Rural Legal Assistance.

The lesson here is that employers not only need to know what and how to pay their employees, they also must ensure they do so in a timely fashion even at the conclusion of employment.

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

Helena Kobrin

July 5, 2018