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University of California can now be fined for wage theft

Employees depend on their employers for regular and consistent paychecks in order to pay their expenses. If those paychecks are delayed, it may not seem like a big deal to the employer, but it can wreak havoc on an employee's life. Most employers are subject to wage theft penalties if they carelessly and thoughtlessly fail to issue pay checks on an expected schedule. Until recently, the University of California was exempt from these penalties due to the fact that it is a public entity. However, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a law that the penalties will apply after UC failed to make proper payments to employees, with disastrous consequences for many of them.

The problem began back in 2018 when UC changed to a payroll system known as UCPath. Many student workers weren't getting their proper paychecks due to complications with the new system. Workers claimed that they didn't receive pay checks on time, didn't get their full pay checks and some said they lost benefits. When workers filed claims, it often took several weeks or even a few months for them to be paid. All the while, UC didn't incur any penalties for their failure to pay.

The effects on the student workers were significant -- some workers reported that they got eviction notices and even one said he had his car repossessed. UCPath is expected to be implemented at more UC campuses in the future, and workers fear the same things will happen to them. Since Governor Newsome signed the new bill, workers will now receive money for each affected pay check, with the university paying out more than $162,000 in damages.

Though these California employees got help to resolve their situation, their story only underscores how harmful it can be to workers who experience wage theft. A business may not realize or care how a missed paycheck can negatively affect an employee's life. Employees who find themselves in a similar situation may want to consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney can help workers enforce their rights.

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