Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Tuesday launched the first-of-its-kind “Wage Theft Task Force” to protect undocumented and documented workers in the county.
“Rebuilding trust with our community, in particular the undocumented, is crucial to public safety, I want those wage theft victims to know that their immigration status does not matter,” Villanueva said in a statement.
“This Wage Theft Task Force is a collaboration with the California Labor Commission, the L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, the L.A. County Federation of Labor, and several community groups,” Villanueva said.
According to a UCLA Labor Center Study, low-wage earners are the most vulnerable and a whopping $28 million dollars is stolen every week in Los Angeles County alone due to wage theft by unscrupulous employers. California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said, “I applaud Sheriff Villanueva for his leadership to stand up for hard-working Angelinos and partner with my office to build a targeted judgment enforcement task force.”
Potential victims of wage theft are urged to reach out to an LASD patrol station to file a complaint, which will be referred to our Special Victims Bureau to investigate.
Upon completion of their investigation, the case may be referred to the DA’s Office and/or the California Labor Commission. Attorneys will decide if this is a criminal matter or not; however, all victims (regardless of the criminal nature of their case) will be referred to the Office of Immigrant Affairs for further support.
Eventually, after a judge renders a decision and if it is in favor of the victim, LASD will serve the court order to help the victim recover his/her stolen wages.
Virgilio Gonzalez was a live-in healthcare worker for the elderly disabled in a congregate setting. Virgilio says he was a victim of wage theft and in 2018 after filing a report with the Labor Commission, he received a judgment for nearly $70,000 in back pay.
“Wage theft hurt me and my family, it is a crime, and I hope nobody else has to go through what I did,” Gonzalez said.
LASD is committed to transparency, accountability and public safety for all including the undocumented.