Combatting Wage Theft: Carney Shegerian's Insights

Carney R. Shegerian, an employee rights attorney and founder of Shegerian & Associates, a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm representing employees, has issued the following comment on the abuse of low wage workers.

Per a new UCLA study which was the focus of a January 6th Los Angeles Times article, “…almost nine out of 10 low-wage workers surveyed in Los Angeles County had recently experienced some form of pay-related workplace violation, or ‘wage theft.’ Almost one in three reported being paid less than the minimum wage and nearly 80% said they had not received legally mandated overtime.” According to the authors of the study, “The reason for the pervasiveness of abuses …is that certain sectors of the Los Angeles economy, including garment manufacturing and residential construction, have embraced business strategies that involve widespread violation of labor laws.” “This is a modern form of slavery that hurts the most vulnerable of people,” Shegerian states.

“Often what we see is that very few low-wage workers are aware that the practices of their employers are illegal and/ or they are afraid to come forward, for fear of losing their jobs or fear of their undocumented status coming to light.” Shegerian states, “Every employee – whether they are legally or illegally in the United States – is entitled to the same right to overtime, minimum wages, meal breaks and all other Labor Code rights as if they were totally documented. And, significantly, if an undocumented employee is fired because they have demanded their rights to lawful wages, they can assert a lawsuit for wrongful termination. The law backs them up and the fact that they are undocumented is irrelevant to these rights,” Shegerian says.

“All employees who fall victim of unpaid wages, harassment, discrimination, illegal meal breaks, vacation pay, and any other type of violation of his or her rights have the right to come forward,” Shegerian says. “We need to stop these employers from taking advantage of Low-Wage workers. It is crucial for every employee to know their rights, and to come forward when those rights have been violated.”

An experienced trial attorney, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, always representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He remains undefeated in federal jury trials and has won 14 seven figure verdicts representing employees.