The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency is cracking down on employers that violate the state’s labor laws. Recently, investigators from the Economic Employment Enforcement Coalition issued 41 citations for labor violations – with fines totaling more than $226,000 – in a recent sweep of 28 San Diego auto body businesses.
The enforcement actions, conducted on April 9 and 10 in conjunction with Bureau of Automotive Repair authorities, uncovered serious violations, including:
- Employment of a minor under the age of 18 without proper permits and certification at one shop;
- Failure to pay overtime at four shops;
- Failure to pay minimum wage at two shops;
- Failure to keep records and post labor notices as mandated by law at 16 shops;
- Failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance at 18 shops.
As in most states, California employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees who are injured on the job. But as this sweep proves, many employers do not have workers’ compensation insurance. They’re often not found out until a worker is hurt and applies for benefits or through enforcement actions such as this one.
Failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance is fraud, plain and simple. This is a form of workers’ compensation fraud – not having the appropriate coverage – is more common than you might think. In fact, it’s much more prevalent than fraud among employees. And the consequences of such actions can be detrimental to injured workers, who are counting on workers’ comp benefits to pay their medical bills and reimburse them for lost wages.
"These shops failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and that’s a violation we take very seriously," EEEC Director David Dorame said in a statement. "In these cases, we issue work stop orders and send employees home until the business proves an active policy is in place to cover workers. By targeting enforcement against illegal operators, we help level the playing field for law abiding businesses."
A complete list of the violations and the businesses cited is available from the California Department of Industrial Relations via email at Communications@dir.ca.gov.
The Economic Employment Enforcement Coalition is a creation of the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger administration in California. The multi-agency task force is charged with enforcing California’s labor laws. It also holds workshops statewide to educate business owners and workers about those laws and regulations.
According to the EEEC: “Businesses engaged in the underground economy deprive the state and legitimate businesses of millions of dollars each year, and in many cases, pass the cost on to the consumer. “
The EEEC uses unannounced enforcement sweeps, as with the automotive businesses, to catch companies that aren’t following the rules when it comes to the state’s labor laws and treatment of employees. The agency has some particular types of companies and industries in its sights because they’re most likely to flout the laws. These include garment, agriculture, construction, pallet, auto body, car wash and restaurant businesses.
According to the EEEC, “These industries have been identified as having a high incidence of workplace violations and a lack of regulatory compliance.” Rule-breaking may include failing to pay appropriate employment taxes, avoiding labor and licensing laws, ignoring workplace safety and health regulations and failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
Employees are encouraged to report these violations directly to the Economic Employment Enforcement Coalition.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints can call the toll-free California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757, available in English and Spanish.