Theft of Workers’ Wages by California Companies

Law Firm Newswire



Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) September 25, 2015 – An investigation conducted by NBC 7 Investigates revealed several instances of wage theft whereby hundreds of companies in San Diego, California, neglected to pay wages to their employees.

In addition, state records disclosed that even when those companies were directed to issue payments to their workers, they did not comply with the order. According to state records, since 2010, over 280 companies in San Diego neglected to compensate their workers a minimum of $800,000 in wages, overtime pay and meal breaks.

Two victims of wage theft are David Sanchez and his wife, Consuelo Montesinos, who entered into an agreement to clean the dining room and kitchen at the Cheesecake Factory in Otay Ranch in San Diego. They were to be compensated at the rate of $50 per night. He and his wife were supporting their three children, and needed the funds to pay rent and provide better conditions for their family.

Prominent employment attorney Deborah Barron stated, “Workers need to be made aware of their rights where state labor laws are concerned, and to seek legal counsel if their employer fails to compensate them for their work.”

They initially worked five to seven hours per night, and earned an amount that exceeded the minimum wage. However, the couple stated that shortly afterwards, their employer, Excell Cleaning and Building Services, required them to work longer hours, such as 10 to 12 hours per day. They were also unable to take breaks, and received only indefinite promises of a wage increase. Soon afterwards, their paychecks began to bounce, and they were unable to purchase groceries at the store that usually cashed their checks.

According to Lila Garcia-Brower, who manages the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, the couple ceased working for Excell in 2007, at which time they were owed over $10,000 by the company. The Fund is a public interest group that provides assistance to victims of wage theft in San Diego and the rest of California. Garcia-Brower stated that wage theft is very prevalent in San Diego, and that the majority of its victims are janitors, several of whom do not speak English, are lacking in education and are unaware of California labor laws. Other victims include those who work in restaurants and hotels, landscapers, security guards and domestic workers.

Based on a review of wage claims data from the state Labor Commission spanning five years, in California, courts have issued judgments against 17,000 companies, and rendered awards totaling $274 million. However, only 17 percent of the workers received payments from their employers. This is because the companies leave California and cannot be found.

Learn more at