I once had a company unfairly cheat me out of wages. I filed with the Dept of Labor who did a bit of research and interviewed several other employees who also stated similar claims and provided appropriate documentation.
Our case took about six months to unwind and the company was found guilty of intentionally failing to pay properly. They were given a a choice of making us whole plus a penalty paid to the government (approximately 50% plus investigation costs) and a penalty paid to the employees (approximately 50%) for time value of money. The company was given the opportunity to appeal but if they lost the appeal the government penalty would increase and the compensation to the employee (in the case of loss of appeal) would grow to triplicate of damages.
The company wisely chose to issue a statement of no admission of guilt (they were guilty as hell) but pay the owed money plus penalties. They made us come to the corporate office to pick up the checks as a method of attempted intimidation. My check was for roughly $6500. Some others had checks well over $20,000. Not much intimidation keeping us from those checks.
My point is, that company willfully chose to rob their employees. I personally was shorted roughly $4000. In total, roughly $120,000 was shorted and the entire episode was cleared up for under $300,000.
Carl Jr on the other hand made a mistake of $5,400. They paid the employees when the mistake was discovered, yet they get brutalized for $1.45 million. So they get hammered for almost 270 times the mistake amount. For a small business (which is much more likely to make such a mistake) that would likely cause the business to close it’s doors, especially one on the restaurant space.
The company that swindled myself and my co-workers out of overtime and some people out of minimum wage (must make at least minimum in every pay cycle even if on commission), paid a bit over double what they should have paid if they were honest. The threat of it going to triple was effective and got us paid quickly.
California and LA are insane. But you knew that already.