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California State Agencies Collaborate to Level Playing Field for Ethical Companies

California’s Department of Industrial Relations, the Employment Development Department, Contractor's State Licensing Board, Board of Equalization, the Bureau of Automotive Repair, and other California state agencies have teamed up to create the Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF), which will be established effective January 1.  This will be the newest effort to battle the underground economy where workers are not given their legal rights or wages, and to level the playing field for businesses who uphold the law.

The Department of Insurance, the Attorney General and Local District Attorneys, and others will collaborate with LETF, sharing information and using new technology to better enforce existing laws.

The news distribution website PR Newswire (registration required), quotes Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Marty Morgenstern as stating:  

“The goal of LETF is to ensure fair and safe working conditions in all workplaces and promote a level playing field for employers through education and enforcement of state laws.  Labor law violators endanger workers and have an unfair market advantage over law-abiding businesses.  We cannot tolerate businesses that skirt the law.”

Another role of LETF will be to conduct outreach and education so that businesses understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, stated:

“This effort is using state resources judiciously in a time of limited funding to allow key agencies to collaborate and direct their best efforts to fight the menace of the underground economy.  Legitimate businesses grow California's economy; they are our economic backbone.  It is the mission of LETF to see that those businesses are protected.”

The goals of LETF will be to:

  • Ensure that workers receive lawful wages and are provided safe working conditions.
  • Ensure that the State receives taxes due from employers and collects penalties owed by employers who violate labor laws.
  • Level the playing field so that employers who comply with the law and support California's economy do not have to compete with employers who break the law. 
  • Eliminate the underground economy.
  • Make the most efficient use of the state's resources in carrying out these goals.

The press release concludes with the reasons these task force goals are so important.

“Businesses operating underground typically violate many laws designed to protect workers and our state's economy. These include: not paying income taxes, unemployment insurance or disability insurance; not carrying workers' compensation coverage; not paying proper wages; and not registering for required licenses or permits. These underground operations subsequently pay lower overhead costs which give them an unfair competitive advantage over legitimate, law-abiding businesses.”

The Department of Industrial Relations was established to improve working conditions for California's wage earners, and to advance opportunities for profitable employment in California.  For more information on employer and employee rights and responsibilities, please visit their website, or contact Dean Fryer or Patricia Ortiz at 510-286-1161.

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