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San Diego Doles Out Fines, Back Pay For Minimum Wage Violations

Juan Pablo Sanchez talks to one of his employees at Super Cocina in City Heig...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Juan Pablo Sanchez talks to one of his employees at Super Cocina in City Heights, June 24, 2016.

While California's minimum wage is going up next week to $11 an hour for businesses with more than 25 employees, the city of San Diego's wage will stay the same at $11.50 an hour. In the following years, the pay in San Diego will rise with inflation.

But not all employees in the city are being paid what they are owed. In addition to a minimum wage, workers are guaranteed five paid sick days a year.

As of last week, 99 employees had received $32,844.98 in back pay from eight businesses, according to a city spokeswoman. Two businesses had paid $28,000 in fines for violating the minimum wage law.

The spokeswoman would not say what businesses those were.

RELATED: San Diego Scrambling To Plan For Minimum Wage Increase

Kyra Greene, the director of the nonprofit advocacy group Center on Policy Initiatives, said she thinks the number of employees owed pay is actually much higher.

"Those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg," she said. A report from her organization estimated that 40,000 employees in San Diego and Imperial counties were not getting all the pay they are owed.

Greene said the city is not doing enough to get the word out about the higher wage or sick days.

"Very few people know there's an office they can go to if they're not getting the minimum wage or not getting access to earned sick days," she said.

Greene said the city relies on employees making complaints. She would like the city to proactively look for businesses breaking the law.

The city has posted a form on its website where employees can report wage violations. It also created a video to tell employees about the law.

While California's minimum wage is going up next week to $11 an hour for businesses with more than 25 employees, the city of San Diego's wage will stay the same at $11.50 an hour.

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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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