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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Santa Monica Nets First Successful Prosecution Under New Minimum Wage Law; Gift Shop to Pay Back Wages

The owner of LA Boutique Gift Shop inside the JW Marriott Hotel in Santa Monica has pleaded no contest to minimum wage violations and agreed to pay employees $11,000 in back wages, the city of Santa Monica announced Monday.

In what the city claims is the first successful prosecution under its 17-month-old minimum wage law, the unnamed owner pleaded no contest last Tuesday (Nov. 21) to three misdemeanor counts for failing to pay employees their proper wages under Santa Monica’s minimum wage law and for a retaliatory firing of an employee who attempted to assert her right to be paid the minimum wage.

According to the city announcement, the owner agreed to pay $11,000 in back wages and $3,000 in investigative costs incurred by the city attorney’s office. The owner was also placed on 36 months of probation and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

“This is a positive and fair result,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen said in the statement. “It is paramount in each of our wage enforcement cases that the affected employees receive full restitution for their back wages and that the employer is educated about the City’s wage laws. This prosecution successfully achieved both results.”

A clerk at La Boutique Gift Shop responding to a call for comment said the owner and general manager were unavailable for immediate comment.

The city enacted a pair of wage ordinances that took effect in July last year: a “living wage” for the employees of hotels and business operating on hotel properties and a minimum wage for all other businesses in the city. For businesses operating on hotel properties such as La Boutique Gift Shop, the required wage as of July 2016 was $13.25 an hour; that increased to $15.66 an hour this past July.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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