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New Prosecutor's Unit Created For Wage Theft And Labor Trafficking Crimes

The U.S. flag waving in front of the Hall of Justice in downtown San Diego on June 12, 2019.
Alexander Nguyen
The U.S. flag waving in front of the Hall of Justice in downtown San Diego on June 12, 2019.

A new prosecutorial unit has been established to investigate labor law violations victimizing workers in San Diego County, it was announced Monday.

The Workplace Justice Unit will prosecute cases of unfair business practices, wage and hour violations, payroll tax evasion, wage theft and labor trafficking, according to a statement from the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said, "Wage theft and labor trafficking are serious problems that we are working on in partnership with the community. We're not going to allow workers to be exploited by heartless, greedy employers who break the law to line their own pockets."

Wage theft crimes may include employers not paying wages earned, paying less than minimum wage, not paying overtime, not allowing workers to take meal and rest breaks, requiring off-the-clock work, taking tips from workers, or misclassifying employees as self-employed independent contractors. Labor trafficking is when a person is forced to provide labor or services through coercion, such as violence, threats, lies, fraud, confiscating legal documents, or to pay a debt.

"The Workplace Justice Unit is a vital step toward San Diego County's new focus on protecting worker rights and fighting for employee fairness," said Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

In addition to the formation of the new unit, the DA's Office has created palm cards in English and Spanish to inform the public on worker rights and created a public webpage and workplace justice hotline where victims of workplace crimes can report claims directly to the DA's Office. The page can be viewed online and the hotline is 866-402- 6044.