Attorney General Becerra Opposes U.S. Department of Labor Program for Compromising Workers’ Rights
State AGs to Labor Secretary: We intend to pursue every available option to ensure that workers’ rights to fair pay and overtime are protected to the fullest possible extent
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a coalition of 10 fellow attorneys general today in sending a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta condemning the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) pilot program. The PAID Program allows employers who violate labor laws to avoid prosecution and penalties in exchange for simply paying the back wages their employees were already owed under federal law. The Program also undercuts state and local labor enforcement agencies, like the California Department of Justice’s Underground Economy Unit, from enforcing state wage and hour laws that serve to protect workers’ rights.
“Californians who depend on every penny they’ve earned to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads should have a government that’s working for them, not against them,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The PAID Program does the complete opposite by giving unscrupulous employers a free pass to avoid accountability for wage theft – not to mention undercutting state and local labor agencies that look out for working people. While Washington fails to protect workers, the California Department of Justice stands committed to protecting workers’ rights and enforcing the law.”
The letter explains that the new pilot program undermines longstanding state and federal laws by allowing employers to enter agreements with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that ignore the possible added value of any applicable claims under state law, which could include violations of higher state or local minimum wage and overtime rates. The PAID Program gives employers significant leverage to convince wage-theft victims to waive their rights under state labor law in order to collect wages they’ve earned but haven’t been paid. Further, the program allows the DOL to release employers from the obligation to pay any applicable liquidated damages, interest, or penalties that may apply for violating wage and hour laws.
Attorney General Becerra was joined on the letter by the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.