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Wage theft

Each year, $15 billion in wages are stolen from workers across the United States.  According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, in 2020 over 7,000 wage theft claims were filed in the Bay Area alone.  

Wage theft can happen to anyone.  Wage theft is the practice of employers failing to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled.  Common types of wage theft include: 

  • Receiving pay less than minimum wage 
  • Working off the clock 
  • Not being paid for overtime work 
  • Stolen tips / your supervisor keeps a portion of your tips (Additional information on tips and gratuities)
  • Missing meal or rest breaks 
  • Not receiving a final paycheck after leaving a job 
  • Late payments/ paycheck
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF)/ bounced check
  • Not being paid at all 
  • Being classified as an independent contractor when you’re an employee 

Questions about wage theft? Unsure if you have experienced wage theft? Call OLSE’s free legal advice line at 1-866-870-7725. Advice line support is available in English, Español, Tiếng Việt, 中文, and Tagalog. 

Wage Theft comic

To download a copy of the wage theft comic in different languages click below:

English | Español | Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt)

Chinese (中文) | Tagalog | Hindi (हिंदी)

What is minimum wage?

Minimum wage is the lowest hourly amount that an employee may be paid for their work. Minimum wage is determined by both state and federal labor laws in the United States.

Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, states and localities are permitted to set their own minimum wage rates, which will take precedence over the federal minimum wage rate if they are higher.

In California, in 2023 the state minimum wage is $15.50/hour (regardless of the number of workers employed by an employer).

Starting on January 1, 2024, California’s minimum wage is $16 per hour for all employers. 

In Santa Clara County, some cities have their own Wage Ordinances that have higher minimum wage rates than the state. 

Minimum wage by City/Town websites

Food safety and workplace questions

Proper Refrigeration Storage Avoiding Food Contamination. Keep cold foods at 41°F or colder. Top Shelf: Prepared and Cooled Foods. Second shelf: Produce. Third shelf: Raw Eggs, Fish, Beef, and Pork. Fourth shelf: Raw ground meats. Bottom shelf: raw poultry.  Food safety questions Department of Environmental Health,, 1-408-918-3400. Workplace and employment questions,, 1-866-870-7725
  • For food safety questions, contact the Department of Environmental Health at 1-408-918-3400 or visit
  • For workplace and employment questions, call 1 (866)-870-7725.

English  Español  Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt)

Chinese (中文)   Tagalog   Hindi (हिंदी)

What is human/labor trafficking?

Human trafficking is defined as:

  • sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining a person for labor or services throughout the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
  • According to the FBI, the Bay Area is one of the top 13 locations in the United States for child sex trafficking.  

Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many industries. 

Common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions with little to no pay.

In Santa Clara County cases range from an elderly woman kept as a slave in a nursing home to a homeless man forced to beg on the streets and turn over his proceeds or face violence. Sex trafficking cases tend to be high-profile cases. 

Anyone who has encountered a suspected victim of human trafficking may call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

information and number to call for stop human trafficking