A new study suggests that wage theft often goes unreported in San Diego County.
The survey of roughly 300 workers shows that a lack of information and fear of retaliation are among the top reasons why claims are rarely filed against an employer.
Most ‘wage theft’ claims deal with workers not getting paid the legal minimum wage or overtime.
The study was carried out by the San Diego State Department of Sociology, the Center on Policy Initiatives and the Employee Rights Center of San Diego. It shows that over the last year, an estimated 40,000 local workers were not paid the legal minimum wage in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
“Most people are afraid to come forward,” said Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, Kyra Greene. “While the violations are taking place and they’re actively hoping to get at least some of their pay.”
The study was released July 11, one year after San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance became law back in 2016.
The construction, restaurant, retail and transportation industry are among the most affected by ‘wage theft.’
Advocates said the Labor Commissioner’s office in San Diego is understaffed and overworked. They’re calling for the city and state to offer more resources so complaints can be investigated properly.
“Our message to Mayor Faulconer is that it’s time for him to stand up for working families and workers who play by the rules,” said Greene. “They have earned their pay and are being denied that by employers who refuse to follow the law.”
NBC 7 received the following statement from Mayor Kevin Faulconer:
"On September 2, 2016, the City's Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage implementing ordinance became effective, designating the Office of the City Treasurer as the enforcement office. Since that time, all minimum wage laws have been enforced."
Ed. Note: The story has been edited to reflect current information.