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UCLA Study Finds Extensive Violations of California Overtime

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Riverside, CAIf you work in California and do not receive proper minimum wage or overtime pay, you aren't alone. A study recent study conducted by researchers at UCLA found almost 90 percent of low-wage workers in Los Angeles County are regularly victimized by employers who violate California labor laws.

The study, titled "Wage Theft and Workplace Violations in Los Angeles: The Failure of Employment and Labor Law for Low-Wage Workers," involved interviews with approximately 1,800 low-wage workers. According to the January 12 edition of the Press-Enterprise, most of workers were Latino and many were without high school diplomas or certificates. More than 20 percent of interview subjects said they had worked overtime during the previous week and almost 80 percent of those were not properly paid for their overtime hours. The interview subjects worked an average of 10 hours of overtime during that previous week. Additionally, thirty percent reported being paid less than minimum wage and 80 percent said they were not given proper meal and rest breaks.

Other violations of labor laws included working off the clock, working despite injury and suffering from retaliation for complaining about violations of labor laws. Approximately 20 percent of the interview subjects who received tips in their employment said employers or supervisors took part or all of their tips.

According to the study, the violations occurred in large and small companies and across a variety of industries. The study was limited to Los Angeles County, but researchers predicted that the results would be similar in outlying areas.

"In nearly every case, the violation rates are higher in Los Angeles than in New York and Chicago," the authors write. They note that part of the reason for this is that some sectors in the Los Angeles economy—such as garment manufacturing and construction—routinely violate labor laws. What's more, very few low-wage workers in Los Angeles have union representation.

The California study is part of a larger study that examines low-wage workers in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

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