The California Labor Commissioner issued a press release this week announcing a $500,000 citation against Los Angeles restaurant Shrimp Lovers, arising from wage theft allegations made against the restaurant by employees who claimed they were paid far below the minimum wage. Although relatively rare, the Labor Commissioner does occasionally bring charges against California employers for these and other types of violations. Over the entire course of 2017, for example, the Labor Commissioner announced citations against five California employers.
The common thread between these cases appears to be that the investigations into these employers were launched as a result of complaints brought by employees. Although we do not know how many complaints submitted to the Labor Commissioner do not result in investigations and citations, employers should be aware that the potential exists for employees to complain to, and subsequently involve, the Labor Commissioner with regard to labor code violations.