Question:

I run a business and received a notice from the California Labor Compliance Bureau requiring me to pay a fee of $275 for labor-related postings. I know there are government agencies that require that I post certain information, but I never had to pay a fee before. Is this a new law?

Answer:

You can throw away the notice you received. The “California Labor Compliance Bureau” is not a government agency and is not authorized to issue citations or charge fees on behalf of the state of California. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) enforces the California Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. The Governor appoints the Labor Commissioner who serves as the Chief of the DLSE.

The current Labor Commissioner, Julie Su, issued an announcement that the “Bureau” you reference has been distributing misleading business solicitations. As she notes, there is no need to pay for workplace postings. They can be downloaded for free from the DLSE website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/wpnodb.html.

Notices that you receive from the DLSE will clearly state that they are from the Labor Commissioner, State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You may receive a notice from the DLSE if an employee has filed a complaint claiming unpaid wages. These notices set forth the amounts the employee claims are owed as well as a conference date so that the employee and employer can sit down with a Deputy Labor Commissioner to discuss the claim. You should pay attention to this notice and attend the conference so that you can tell your side of the story. Otherwise, the matter will automatically be set for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

If you cannot resolve the employee’s claim at the conference, you will receive a DLSE notice setting a hearing date. Again, you must heed this notice and attend the hearing to avoid the employee winning by default.

You may also receive a notice from the DLSE if an employee is alleging that you discriminated against him or her because of a complaint about a wage related issue. In this instance, you will be asked to respond to the employee’s claim in writing. Again, it is very important to respond to this notice. Normally you must present your entire defense in that response, and the DLSE may make a decision without a hearing. You may wish to contact an attorney if you receive any of these types of notices.

You may also receive a visit from a DLSE state investigator conducting an inspection or investigating a claim. The DLSE investigator will identify him or herself and will have state identification and a business card. A DLSE investigator will not request any kind of payment during the inspection. If someone comes to your workplace claiming to be an investigator concerning labor compliance issues, you should ask for the person’s identification. If he or she requests payment on site, you should immediately call the Labor Commissioner’s Office at
(415) 703-4810. Being wary of these types of scams will protect you and the money you have worked so hard to earn.
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