By focusing on wage theft and retaliation claims instead of broad enforcement efforts, California’s Labor Department has managed to assess more than $51 million in civil penalties against businesses found to be in violation of state labor laws.
In 2012, the agency’s Bureau of Field Enforcement uncovered more than $16 million in unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay—more than in any previous year on record. The $51 million in assessed civil penalties represented a 150% increase over 2010 assessments.
The agency’s citation rate following inspections has gone up from 48% to 80%. Cases now go from filing to resolution faster than they have since 2008, despite increasing numbers of complaints.