Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Minimum Wage Violations: A Major Issue for California Workers

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Minimum Wage Violations: A Major Issue for California Workers

Minimum Wage Violations: A Major Issue for California Workers

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The minimum wage in California has increased recently. Still, not all the employees have been able to enjoy that change because their employers simply don’t think it’s sustainable to pay that much for their work, especially since America is currently suffering from inflation. 

These violations have become a pandemic in California, with reports claiming they cost workers billions yearly. It leaves something to be said about enforcing the wage laws, and its impact is far-reaching on those affected.

How Big the Problem is

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A study by Rutgers University has shown that major cities in California, including San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose, have not been paying workers their actual wages, causing them to lose about $4,000 yearly. This proves that better laws only cause change for good if they are adequately enforced. 

Violations Are on the Rise

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Between 2014 and 2023, employers deducted their workers’ rightful minimum wage more than half the time they paid them. In 2023, multiple repeated violations affected over one million workers. The government did well by increasing the minimum wage to benefit employees, but that is all wasted if there is no adequate enforcement.

ALSO READ: Customers Condemn $21 Subway Sandwich Amid California Minimum Wage Hike

Those Who Suffer the Most

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The Rutgers study not only shows how much employees are losing, but it also contains data that proves this pandemic is more likely to be experienced by some marginalized groups, including Black and Latino workers and young people between the ages of 16 and 24. These people have to make do with lower-paying jobs and can’t often fight injustice because it comes at the expense of their careers.

How California Is Taking the Fast Food Wage Hike

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Fast food workers celebrated on April 1, 2024, when California increased its minimum wage from $16 to $20 per hour. It is a move in the right direction, but again, many are forced to wonder how many employers will be willing to obey the law and, if they don’t, what the government will do to enforce the directive.

POLL—Should the Government Increase Taxes on the Wealthy To Reduce Economic Inequality? 

A Potential Step in the Wrong Direction

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The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) was created to help workers who feel cheated out of their rightful pay get their dues via lawsuits. This is an excellent control for would-be violators, but it only works if it stays standing. That might change this November thanks to a ballot initiative that could repeal PAGA, further weakening workers and making it harder for them to get justice for these infringements. 

A Call for More Enforcement

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If the ballot initiative succeeds, it will undo many good things and render the minimum wage increase useless because employers would find it easier to get away with not paying what they should. Experts on the topic believe it is not time to weaken labor enforcement but to strengthen it, and the best way to do this is by enforcing the existing laws. 

Businesses Have a Part To Play

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In reaction to minimum wage hikes, several major businesses have decided to increase the prices of their products, but this is not an effective fix. They would be better served focusing on improving operational efficiency and integrating new technologies to help balance costs without any negative impacts. Unfortunately, adopting such technologies can lead to layoffs as employees don’t see the need to pay more for humans when machines can do more effectively and are cheaper. 

ALSO READ: Nike Set to Layoff 1,600 Employees Amid “Woke” Drama

How It Affects the Economy

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Minimum wage violations are felt most keenly by the workers, but they also have broad impacts on the economy as a whole. Underpaid employees have less spending ability, negatively affecting the country’s economic growth. 

There May Be Hope Yet

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Solving the issue of minimum wage theft will require better enforcement, increasing people’s awareness of their rights, and introducing supportive policies to protect the more vulnerable groups. This will improve workers’ conditions and eventually boost the nation’s economy.

What Can You Do?

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The problem of minimum wage violations has become too familiar in California. While the government is expected to do more to protect the interests of workers, one thing you can do as an individual is know your rights and keep your ears on the grounds to make sure you’re aware of fair labor practices. If you think you’re being cheated, seek legal advice or assistance. Several advocacy groups, such as The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, will gladly help.

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