California Establishes Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section within the State Department of Justice
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on January 28, 2021 the establishment of a Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section within the California Department of Justice’s Division of Public Rights. In a press release, Attorney General Becerra stated the new section will bring "increased focus and expertise to implement policy and protect against workplace issues."
The state announced three areas where the new section will have a particular impact:
Wage theft, working with partner agencies to help address systemic deficiencies that result in workers losing out on the wages they are due, including in instances where businesses fail to pay overtime or allow for meal and rest breaks;
Health and safety violations, stepping up DOJ’s ability to tackle current and emerging trends such as those brought on by the coronavirus; and
Employee misclassification, protecting workers from being inappropriately classified as independent contractors, which can allow companies to evade legal obligations such as minimum wage, sick leave, and overtime.
Attorney General Becerra was a strong proponent of the state's emergency temporary standard regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new section will likely collaborate with CalOSHA in enforcing the ETS.