The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is attempting to chip away at the state’s ongoing wage theft problem through a series of investigations throughout the state. Officials recently cited seven restaurants in the Bay Area for stolen wages totaling more than $10 million. Over $5 million of that total came from 133 workers at one restaurant, according to an article from SFGate. Additionally, six residential facilities in Los Angeles were issued citations totaling $7 million in recent months, and a Los Angeles restaurant was charged $500,000. In Chino, a fitness and weight loss chain was cited $8.3 million. Violations included counting tips toward minimum hourly wage, withholding overtime payments, and not paying split-shift premiums.
As our employment attorneys can explain, California minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2018, is $11 per hour for places of employment with more than 25 employees, and $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. The state is in the middle of a gradual increase process, with wages going up incrementally each year until they reach $15 per hour in 2023. In many states, restaurant workers have a different minimum hourly wage than other workers that is provided by their employer, so long as their tips bring them up to at least the standard hourly minimum wage. But in California, restaurant owners are not allowed to use tips as a credit toward their employees’ minimum wage. Servers must be compensated with full minimum wage, plus all the tips they earn. If a California employer holds back any tips or applies tips toward their hourly wage, it is considered wage theft. Continue reading