FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2012
California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su honored as top labor and employment lawyer
Los Angeles – California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su was recently recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 75 Labor and Employment Attorneys in California. This is the first time that a state Labor Commissioner has received such recognition.
“Since her appointment to California Labor Commissioner, Julie has made great strides in enforcing our state’s labor laws. She has increased enforcement pressure on the underground economy through more in-depth inspections selected through better targeting, improved the wage claims process to assist California workers to recover wages, and revitalized the state’s response to retaliation,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “She is a top notch asset to our executive team and I am delighted that she has received the acknowledgment of the Daily Journal.”
Some of Su’s key accomplishments during her tenure as California Labor Commissioner include:
- Warehouse investigations: Su has received national attention for her work to address wage violations in warehouses. Labor Commissioner Su spoke on the subject at a hearing held by the State Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment called “Confronting the Challenges of a Subcontracted Economy: The Experience of Warehouse Workers in the Logistics Industry as a Case Study.”
- Off-site and off-hours investigations: Su has utilized off-site investigative techniques, including interviews of employees away from the employer, and surveillance and inspections prior to regular business hours or in the middle of the night, particularly in industries such as janitorial where the work takes place outside of regular hours.
- Criminal Investigation Unit: Su established the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU), made up entirely of sworn peace officers who have completed the police academy and report directly to the Labor Commissioner, to investigate and prosecute wage theft and other criminal violations of the Labor Code.
- Public works enforcement: Su has focused on issuing and collecting maximum penalties for violations of prevailing wage laws. In the last fiscal year—the first year of Su’s tenure—she collected nearly $9 million in wages owed to workers on public works projects (a $3 million increase over the previous fiscal year).
- Working smarter to address abuses in the underground economy: Su has prioritized staff trainings with better integration and streamlining of functions, including using every tool to address the serial violators. Su has improved targeting and filed civil litigation across the state to bring into compliance employers who have been cited or otherwise refuse to pay minimum wages and overtime and significantly reduced the time for investigating retaliation complaints where workers come to the state for help or cooperate with investigations.
- Modernizing state functions through technology: Su established on-line payment capabilities and created website pages for businesses required to get a license from her office to assist them with compliance. She also established, following state legislation creating a temporary Entertainment Work Permit for minors who seek to work in the entertainment industry, an on-line application for all Entertainment Work Permits and is now working to bring the licensing for farm labor contractors on-line.
- Effective outreach to all stakeholders: Su has embraced outreach to employers, employees, industry associations, unions, and all stakeholders invested in successful enforcement. She has met with employers in numerous industries, including construction, restaurant, janitorial, agriculture, and carwash to work collaboratively to eliminate the unfair competition posed by labor law violators. Su launched an outreach effort utilizing Spanish language media across the state.
Su was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in April 2011 as California Labor Commissioner to lead DIR’s Division of Labor Enforcement Standards (DLSE). Prior to her appointment, Su served as the Litigation Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the nation’s largest non-profit civil rights organization devoted to issues affecting the Asian American community. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor laws. DIR has additional information on labor laws and work related topics on our website at www.dir.ca.gov, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints can also call the California Workers’ Information Line at 1-866-924-9757 for recorded information on a variety of work related topics.
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