Protecting the rights of workers is a difficult job. Employers are driven largely by the desire to make money. That mission is often aided by stepping on the rights of workers. Many of these violations of workers’ rights escape the attention of California officials. A new bureau has been established to help California enforce worker rights.
The California Department of Justice is broadly responsible for protecting workers’ rights. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is in charge of enforcing federal and state civil rights laws, including those involving workers’ rights.
Within that section, there is a new bureau dedicated specifically to protecting the rights of workers. Those rights include the health and safety obligations of employers. They also include things like wage theft, unpaid overtime, worker misclassification, and more.
The new section is more than just a reorganization. With more than 19 million workers, California presents a challenge in overseeing that the law is followed. A lack of oversight encourages employers to push the limits.
Some may conclude there is more money to be made in violating worker rights because the risk of getting caught is low. If more violations are uncovered, fewer employers will take the chance.
The new Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section represents an increase in the personnel invested in protecting workers. It shows a commitment from the Department of Justice to uphold labor rights for all California workers.
The press release announcing the new section says that the bureau will “help bring increased focus and expertise to implement policy and protect against workplace issues.”
COVID-19 has had a powerful impact on American workers. Workers who had long been mistreated found themselves labeled “essential.” That label didn’t bring an end to the mistreatment. In many cases, essential workers were treated as expendable by cost-conscious employers. It’s frustrating to say the least to be called essential and be treated as expendable.
Countless workers found themselves doing their jobs from home. These workers faced employment problems, too. Wage theft is, in many ways, easier when employees are working at home. Businesses may feel empowered to deny overtime pay or ignore meal and rest breaks. Workers can feel like they are on the clock all the time, without the benefits of overtime pay.
A new bureau is a hopeful sign for those who care about workers’ rights. The workplace can be a dangerous place. Worker rights are under constant assault. More attention and resources are needed to target employers who ignore employee rights.
If your rights have been violated by your employer, an experienced employment attorney can help. You can call us at 310-394-0888 or send us a message for the legal assistance you deserve.