Wage Theft: Underground Economies



Wage Theft in the Underground Economies Recovery of earned but unpaid wages - which should be a simple mathematical calculation and determination of credibility by a hearing officer for the California Labor Commissioner - is convoluted and frustrated by the use of corporate shells and the dynamics specific to each industry.

This course addresses wage theft litigation, which entails an intersection of employment law, corporate law and debtor-creditor law. The course critically examines corporate veil piercing litigation, litigation in the bankruptcy forum, judgment enforcement, and administrative law proceedings before the California Labor Commissioner.

The course also provides an overview of the landscape upon which the lawyering takes place. Specific focus is given to the complications posed by the fact that wage theft is largely concentrated in the underground, or off-the-books, economic activity in certain industries. Particularly, the course will draw upon the instructor's years of litigating in the carwash, construction, janitorial, residential care home, restaurant and trucking industries.

Students also examine the role of influential actors in combatting wage theft, including the California Labor Commissioner, plaintiffs' attorneys, legal services organizations, and workers' rights organizations.

The overall goal of the course is to provide students with an insight into the practice of law regarding wage theft, with an emphasis on the interaction between multiple areas of law, industry dynamics, and influential actors.