Photo of worker with tip jar to illustrate wage theft.

Wage theft is grand theft according to a new law, AB 1003.

With the recent passage of AB 1003, employers who intentionally steal their employees’ wages, including tips in excess of $950 per employee (or $2,350 from a croup of employees) may be charged with “grand theft.” 

Adding a section to the California Penal Code, the wage theft law also applies to independent contractors, and defines employers at the “hiring entity of an independent contractor.” Additionally, “wages” are defined in the bill to include “wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation.”

According to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), “Wage theft occurs when employers fail to pay their workers all the earnings they are entitled. Examples of wage theft include paying less than minimum wage, not paying workers overtime, not allowing workers to take meal and rest breaks, requiring off the clock work, or taking workers’ tips.”

Penalties for Grand Theft may include one year in County jail for misdemeanors, or between 16 months and three years for felonies.

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