Fresno proposes taking wage theft cases in-house 

While the number of wage theft cases locally are not known, officials expect that hundreds to thousands of Fresno workers face wage theft annually.

Fresno lawmakers could give City Attorney Andrew Janz the authority to prosecute wage theft cases, an effort targeted at protecting Fresno’s working class. 

Currently all wage theft cases go through the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, meaning Fresno would be the first city in the state to take on this responsibility.” 

State of play: Wage theft remains a major issue across the state. Californians filed around 19,000 unpaid wage claims in 2021, totalling over #330 million in lost wages. 

  • Wage theft includes paying less than minimum wage, not allowing employees to take breaks, not paying employees in a timely manner, misclassifying employees to benefit owners, bounced paychecks and unauthorized deductions from pay, among other examples. 

The backstory: Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 594, which gives public prosecutors – such as Janz – the authority to prosecute Labor Code violations. 

The big picture: Fresno City Councilman Tyler Maxwell is proposing a resolution at Thursday’s council meeting to give Janz the power to prosecute wage theft. 

  • If the council approves of it, the City Attorney’s Office would create an intake system on the city’s website for people to submit their wage theft complaints. 
  • The city will forward any case that it believes has merit to the State Labor Commissioner, and if the state does not act within 30 days the city will be able to move forward with investigating and prosecuting. 
  • Maxwell and Janz said at a Tuesday press conference at City Hall that the state does not provide data for how many wage theft cases occur in Fresno, but Janz said his office believes there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cases locally. 
  • The program will be cost neutral for the city, as Janz notes that he has the personnel and resources to add this to his office’s duties without incurring additional costs. 
  • Janz said it remains to be seen if the city will go after Bitwise for wage theft. 

What they’re saying: “The well-being and financial success of our working class families must continue to be a top priority for this city,” Maxwell said. “This is not an issue that we can continue sweeping under the rug or allowing to fall through the cracks of a broken system. Bad actors will be held to account, and we will help deliver the relief so many Fresno families deserve.”

Related Posts