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California Employers May Face Increased Criminal Investigations

Lexology (03/26/12) Asa W. Markel

To enhance efforts to stop wage theft, a new criminal investigation unit has been established by the California Department of Industrial Relations, tasked with investigating possible violations of the state’s labor code. State law makes it illegal for employers to withhold wages or neglect requirements for semi-monthly paychecks, and civil and criminal penalties for wage and hour law violations have been increased under the recently enacted Wage Theft Prevention Act and Employee Misclassification Act. Although no groundbreaking criminal investigations or prosecutions have been announced yet, experts say employers should understand that enforcement of wage and hour laws is a major focus of governmental and legislative policy.