Employer Forced to Pay More Than $1 Million for Pay Violations
The state Labor Commissioner recently issued citations to a
Chino warehouse and distribution company for overtime violations and failure to
provide a required 30-minute meal period to employees. The citations involved
865 employees and resulted in wages and penalties of over $1 million.
The commissioner’s investigation revealed that the company, Quetico, LLC, “established restrictive procedures which shorted workers their wages.”
Among those procedures:
- Requiring employees to punch in but providing only three time clocks, resulting in long lines of more than 100 employees (the company operates two warehouses in an area that’s equivalent to nearly 20 football fields).
- Workers who arrived on time but then had to wait in line to punch in were given warnings for punching in late.
- Workers had to report earlier to wait in line so they could punch in “on time” and were not compensated for that time waiting in line.
- Workers had to stand in long lines again to punch in and out for meal breaks, which cut into their required 30-minute break. The company altered time records to show that the employees took the full 30-minute lunch break.
- The company penalized workers who complained about unpaid wages. The employer disciplined and suspended workers who filed complaints with the Labor Commissioner.
“Wage theft takes many forms,” said
Labor Commissioner Julie Su in a statement. “My office will crack down on any
employer who is taking hard-earned wages from workers by falsifying time cards
and systematically preventing employees from taking a full meal break.”
Wage theft prevention has been at the top of the Labor Commissioner’s agenda. Last year HR Watchdog reported on the creation of a criminal investigation unit to target employers who perpetrate “wage theft.”
Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Editor/Staff Counsel
CalChamber members can get an in-depth discussion of California’s stringent meal and rest break requirements and tips on compliance from HRCalifornia’s Meal and Rest Breaks page. Not a member? Take a Free Trial now!