Lifting Minimum Wage Workers Out of Poverty Through Wage Enforcement

In June 2015, Los Angeles enacted a historic increase toward a $15 per hour minimum wage by the year 2020. The increase is expected to help more than 600,000 Angelenos rise out of poverty. Implementation has already begun, but enforcement remains a crucial concern for many reasons including wage theft, or the denial of wages rightfully owed to an employee. To help with enforcement, the Office of Wage Standards (OWS) was established in 2015 to implement and enforce the minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements on all businesses headquartered or doing business in the City of Los Angeles.

FUSE Fellow Mark Lee will help the city avoid wage theft by employers or denial of wages owed to employees by further examining the work of OWS and identifying challenges and barriers to the successful administration of wage standards given the current organizational structures and processes. He will also research the procedures and practices of other major cities with similar programs to identify best practices and performance benchmarks. His work will lead to written recommendations and an action plan with strategies and timelines for implementation, which will help ensure that proper wage enforcement will occur in the city, helping thousands of residents earn a fair income.