The San Diego County District Attorney's Office has created a new unit to address workplace crimes like wage theft and labor trafficking.
DA Summer Stephan on Monday announced the new Workplace Justice Unit, which aims to better protect San Diego County laborers from "dishonest employers," Stephan said.
"Wage theft and labor trafficking are serious problems that we are working on in partnership with the community. We’re not going to allow workers to be exploited by heartless, greedy employers who break the law to line their own pockets," she said.
The unit has its own prosecutor, investigator and paralegal. The team will be incorporated into the current Insurance Fraud Division, now named the Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division.
San Diegans who feel they may be the victim of a workplace crime can call the DA's workplace justice hotline at (866)402-6044 or make a report online here.
The DA's office said the idea for the workplace unit came after a panel on workplace justice hosted with San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. The group felt there was a need to better protect workers who are often minorities or from disadvantaged communities.
“The Workplace Justice Unit is a vital step toward San Diego County’s new focus on protecting worker rights and fighting for employee fairness," Fletcher said.
Employers in violation of wage theft may not pay their employees wages earned, may pay less than minimum wage or may not pay overtime or may withhold meal and rest breaks. Employees who work off the clock may be victims of wage theft, the DA's office said.
Labor trafficking is when a person is forced to work through violence, threats, lies or fraud. If an employer says free labor will repay some sort of debt, that is also labor trafficking.