SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — The County of Santa Clara has created the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) to fight unlawful labor practices in Santa Clara County. The office will seek to promote and establish a fair and healthy economy for workers, businesses, and residents through the enforcement of local, state, and federal labor laws and ordinances. Betty Duong has been appointed as Director of the newly established office.
“Our laws are only as good as the enforcement that backs them up,” said Board President Joe Simitian. “Labor law violations are surprisingly widespread, but too often go unaddressed. We’re hoping our own local Office of Labor Standards Enforcement can help make sure local employees get the fair shake they deserve.”
“The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will play a vital role in combating wage theft in our County,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, who advocated for its creation. “It will provide the Board of Supervisors the right tools and data to implement mechanisms to enforce labor standards in our community.”
Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay its workers the full wages or benefits they are owed. Illegal practices under state and federal labor standards include: paying workers less than minimum wage or agreed-upon wage; requiring employees to record fewer hours than they actually worked on their timesheets; misclassifying employees to evade overtime requirements; denying employees meals or rest breaks and stealing tips from them. According to the Wage Theft Coalition, workers in Santa Clara County file the highest numbers of claims in California.
“While the County of Santa Clara is at the forefront of advancing labor standards to safeguard the rights of working individuals, wage theft continues to be a serious problem,” said Deputy County Executive David Campos. “We are ready to identify and fight these illegal practices that continue to violate the rights of hard working individuals.”
The primary functions of the office will include: receiving complaints, conducting investigations, and levying penalties for infractions and/or violations; researching, tracking, reporting, and developing programs for enforcement of labor standards in unincorporated areas of the County; facilitating the exchange and dissemination of information related to wage regulations to all parties contracting with the County; and providing training and educational materials to workers and employers, and maintaining a collaborative partnership with community based organizations (CBOs) and the business community. The new office is led by Director Betty Duong and will be staffed with three additional positions.
“This is an opportunity to create immediate and tangible outcomes for both workers and businesses by addressing unfair and unlawful labor practices. Enforcing wage laws protects workers against exploitation and levels the playing field for the multitude of businesses doing the right thing,” said Director Betty Duong. “The OLSE will be working closely with other County agencies, such as the Division of Equity and Social Justice, along with business and advocacy groups as we build this office.”
Prior to leading the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, Betty Duong served as Budget and Policy Director to Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. Duong took a personal leave of absence in 2016 to manage the successful Measure A $950 million housing bond campaign.
Duong is an employment and labor law attorney with almost twenty years of experience in community advocacy. Duong received a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis – King Hall, School of Law, a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a proud graduate of De Anza College. A lifelong resident of Santa Clara County, Betty currently resides in San Jose with her husband, Khai, their daughter, Harper, and dog, Bunny.
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About the County of Santa Clara, California
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, the sixth largest county in California. With a $8.17 billion budget, more than 70 agencies/departments and nearly 22,000 employees, the County of Santa Clara plans for the needs of a dynamic community, offers quality services, and promotes a healthy, safe and prosperous community for all. The County provides essential services, including public health and environmental protection; behavioral health and medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System including Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (Hospital and Clinics), O’Connor Hospital and Saint Louise Regional Hospital; child and adult protection services; homelessness prevention and solutions; roads, parks and libraries; emergency response to disasters; protection of minority communities and those under threat; access to a fair criminal justice system, and scores of other services, particularly for those members of our community in the greatest need.
Posted: September 14, 2018