A push by San Diego County officials to police wage theft violations has demonstrated elected leaders are striving to seriously address the problem. The San Diego Board of Supervisors is considering a series of proposals that will vigorously pursue the employers behind illegal practices that affect the most vulnerable working class citizens.
“Traditional law enforcement, like the DAs of the world, haven’t taken acute interest in wage theft, and I would say, just in the last couple years we’ve seen a tremendous shift. Law enforcement is actually treating it like … they would treat any other type of larceny or any other type of theft.” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.
Until now, documenting the abuses has been the charge of advocacy groups and labor unions; rarely was law enforcement involved.
Historically, workers have been hesitant to come forward because of the fear that it could cost them their jobs or worse, result in deportation. Officials aim to allay the fear of reprisal by creating a direct pathway between victims and prosecutors.
All of this underlines the seriousness of the proposals and the importance of a new approach when it comes to this kind of worker abuse.
Stephan, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez are spearheading efforts.
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