Los Angeles County Names Minimum Wage Enforcement Bureau

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By David McAfee

April 13 — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted April 12 to designate the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs as the agency responsible for enforcing the county’s new minimum wage, which will be increased to $10.50 per hour in July and to $15 by 2020 for large businesses.

The board members voted 4-1 to approve the ordinance, which amends Title 8 of the Los Angeles Code to include the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs as administrator of the LA County minimum wage law.

The ordinance further establishes a wage enforcement program that puts additional restrictions on employers in unincorporated areas of the county.

Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and co-convener of the Campaign to Raise the Wage, hailed the board’s vote.

“Today's landmark decision by the Board of Supervisors means that every worker in unincorporated Los Angeles County will no longer have to live in fear of unpaid wages,” Hicks said in an April 12 statement. “L.A. County's working families will now be able to see the value of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.”

The vote is the most recent development in Los Angeles County’s push for minimum wage enforcement, coming less than five months after the board of supervisors voted to create a wage enforcement program at a cost of about $408,000 in fiscal year 2015-2016.

The county’s minimum wage will reach $15 by 2021 for employers with fewer than 26 employees. The wage will rise to $15 an hour by 2020 for businesses with 26 or more employees.

‘Largest County.’

Proponents of the wage enforcement bureau say the board’s vote makes LA County the largest county in the U.S. to have a funded wage enforcement agency.

It will create a place to administer claims, educate the general public and employers and proactively enforce “low-road actors,” according to Raise the Wage, a coalition of business, labor and community leaders working on the $15 minimum wage and related issues.

Hector Jimenez, a carwash worker in Baldwin Hills, Calif., and member of the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, said the decision means he will no longer have to worry about unpaid wages because his employer will “finally be held accountable.”

“I work overtime as much as I can to support my family, but I don't get paid the correct wages from my employer,” Jimenez said April 12. “Management says my breaks take up those hours, and therefore I am not getting paid for my full hours of work.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcafee@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the ordinance is available at http://src.bna.com/d5L.