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Department of Industrial Relations: Current Events

Julie A. Su, the new Commissioner for the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, has revamped the department's administration and implemented a new strategy to enforce California labor laws through the smarter use of resources and assessments. Key statistics of the Commissioner's changes demonstrate:

  • 2012 was the highest year for total hearing awards, $85 million-a 419% increase over 2010
  • 2012 saw the highest amount of unpaid minimum wages assessed against employers at over $3 million, a 462% increase over 2010
  • 2011 saw the saw the highest amount of unpaid overtime wages assessed against employers at more than 4.8 million, a 462% increase over 2010. This amount tripled to more than $13 million in 2012, a 642% increase over 2010.
  • The highest amount of civil penalties in a decade were reported in 2011 ($35 million) and 2012 ($51 million). The civil penalties were for various labor law violations including:
    • failure to pay minimum wage or overtime
    • failure to provide itemized wage deduction statements
    • failure to carry workers' compensation insurance
    • failure to comply with licensing and registration requirements.
  • More inspections occurred in 2012 resulting in the highest rate of civil penalty citations in the past 10 years.

Given the new style of enforcement it is crucial for employers to understand and remain current on California's intricate labor laws to avoid potential assessments and future litigation.

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