Sometimes, when an employer withholds pay from an employee, it is because an employer is intentionally and willful committing wage theft. Other times, we are dealing with an accounting or payroll error, which results in accidental withholding of wages. Regardless of the cause, the situation still leaves many workers who are in desperate need of a paycheck without money to survive and take care of themselves and their families. It is not as if their bill collectors and landlords will simply allow them to pay late without accruing any penalties or defaults, because their employer is withholding wages.
According to a recent news article from the LA Times, many home-care workers have been waiting weeks for their paychecks. This incident involves over 40,000 workers who are employed by a taxpayer-funded program to serve as home-care workers in Los Angeles County. The program was designed to pay these workers to provide much needed home care for elderly and disabled California residents who live in low-income households.
The employees are required to complete their scheduled shifts and then submit a paper timesheet to the project processing center. It has not been said why this process has never been switched over to an online based reporting system, like most other state and federal programs.
However, when the workers submitted their timesheet during a recent pay period, around 40,000 of them never arrived at the processing center. These timesheets were all sent separately though regular first class United States mail. A spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services said this was the first time anything like this has ever happened with this or any other program with which they are familiar.
While the program is run statewide, it was only the Los Angeles based employees who were affected by this missing mail. More surprising, around 21,000 of these missing timesheets showed up weeks later at the processing center, but 19,000 are still missing. The agency still does not know why this occurred, but is still investigating the cause of the missing timesheets.
A spokesperson for the union, which represents the home-care workers left without pay for weeks has demanded a full investigation, and, once an answer is found, there must be permanent modifications made to the payroll process, so this unfortunate situation never repeats itself, as it has had, and is still having, a devastating effect on tens of thousands of workers. Most of these home-care workers receive the state minimum wage of less than $10 per hour, so they are not in a position to go without pay for a month.
As or Los Angeles County employment attorneys can explain, wage withholding is a common problem. While it is often done with malicious intent, even accidental wage withholding can be a serious problem, if immediate steps are not taken to correct the issue and pay the economically injured workers.
Both the state agency and the union offices have said their phone lines have been overwhelmed for the past few days, as these workers cannot make ends meet without being paid for work they performed.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Additional Resources:Mishap leaves home-care workers waiting weeks for paychecks, June 2, 2015, LA Times
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Adams v. CDM Media USA – Age Discrimination Lawsuit to Proceed, March 12, 2015, Costa Mesa Wage and Hour Lawyer Blog