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Brian Maienschein
Brian Maienschein. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

AB 594: Labor Code Enforcement

The bill says wage theft is widespread in California, and is particularly egregious in low-wage industries

By Chris Micheli, March 20, 2023 1:38 pm

Assembly Bill 594 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) was recently amended to provide an alternative enforcement mechanism under the Labor Code. The bill would amend Labor Code Section 218, add Section 226.9, and add Chapter 8.

Section 1 of the bill makes seven legislative findings and declarations, including that wage theft is widespread in California, and is particularly egregious in low-wage industries, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable workers. In addition, it is essential that we maximize the tools available to public enforcement agencies to give workers access to justice, hold companies that break the law accountable, and secure our public safety net.

Section 2 of the bill would add Chapter 8, titled “Alternative Enforcement,” to Division 1 of the Labor Code. It would define the term “public prosecutor.” A public prosecutor would be authorized to prosecute an action, either civil or criminal, for a violation of the Labor Code or to enforce the provisions of the Labor Code independently and without specific direction of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Division of Workers’ Compensation, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

A public prosecutor would be allowed to seek injunctive relief to prevent continued violations of the Labor Code. A court would be required to award a prevailing plaintiff in that action its reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees.

In legal actions initiated by a public prosecutor to enforce the Labor Code, any agreement between a worker and employer that purports to limit representative actions or to mandate private arbitration would be required to have no effect on the proceedings or on the authority of the public prosecutor to enforce the Labor Code.

Any motion or other court filing that seeks to compel a public prosecutor to arbitrate a claim due to any agreement between a worker and employer would be deemed frivolous and any subsequent appeal of the denial of any motion or other court filing would not stay the trial court proceedings.

Section 3 of the bill would amend Labor Code Section 218 to repeal the provisions related to the authority of the district attorney. Section 4 of the bill would add Labor Code Section 226.9 to provide that, as an alternative to existing process, the Labor Commissioner may issue a determination that a person or employer has violated existing law and can issue a citation by the Labor Commissioner. In addition, an employee would be entitled to either a statutory penalty or enforcement of a civil penalty for the same violation.

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2 thoughts on “AB 594: Labor Code Enforcement

  1. Assemblyman Democrat Brian Maienschein is the bug-eyed Democrat with the large forehead who is also pushing AB 853 that would force private grocers to beg permission from their Democrat big government overlords before they could close their business. He’s an attorney and a former two-term San Diego City Councilman who was termed out in 2008. He ran as a Republican and was elected to the California State Assembly to represent District 76. Maienschein made headlines when he switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat on January 24, 2019 claiming that “Donald Trump has led the Republican Party to the extreme on issues that divide our country.” LOL! The only white males who are left in the Democrat party are corrupt to the core? He’s probably getting some sort of payoffs from the labor unions?

  2. Oh look, yet another law that will chase businesses and jobs out of the state. And what exactly is “wage theft” exactly? By their definition it’s just “being paid less than I think I am owed” which is not a justifiable defense in these cases. When you get hired, it is clear what you are going to be paid for and under what terms. If you don’t like the terms, you have the option to not work for said employee or to quit if you already are. These elitist Democrats think that the rest of us are too stupid to figure this out on our own. So instead they come up with more and more laws that end up in creating less and less jobs and thus cause even more of the poverty they claim to care so much about (although by their actions it’s clear that they don’t).

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