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Matt Fritz-Mauer is a fifth year law and graduate student, pursuing both a J.D. from the School of Law and a Ph.D. from the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Once he finally finishes school, Matt hopes to practice labor and employment law before eventually entering academia. His current research interests surround labor and employment law, as well as criminal defense work. Matt is originally from the East Coast, and has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Delaware.
Matt's current project explores the issue of wage theft by examining empirical research, case law, statutes, bills, and news articles and press releases. "Wage theft" is generally defined as the unlawful withholding or denial of wages or benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Employers may commit wage theft in a variety of ways, including--but not limited to-- failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, failing to pay for all hours worked, withholding tips, and misclassifying employees. This project has two primary foci: first, how has California responded to the growing concern about and increasing activism over wage theft? With its strong reputation for being "employee friendly," does California adequately address the problem of wage theft, or does the practical application of its laws fail to provide protection and recourse for workers? If California's enforcement of workers' rights laws is arguably deficient, is it fair to call the state "employee friendly"? Second, across the country activists have mobilized to combat wage theft, often by lobbying for the passage of increasingly harsh civil and criminal laws. Is this ratcheting up of penalties likely to be an effective solution to the problem? Would activists be better served by pursuing other avenues to fight against wage theft?