Yes, you heard right. Some employees complained they hadn’t been paid for a couple of months, so they State of California ordered their employer not to have employees anymore:
MARCH 9–Citing Michael Jackson’s failure to cover his employees with required insurance, California state labor officials today effectively closed the singer’s Neverland Ranch and fined him $69,000, The Smoking Gun has learned. Investigators with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement arrived at the sprawling Los Olivos estate this morning and served the below work stoppage order on a security guard. Additionally, in a March 7 letter, the state apprised Jackson that more than 30 workers have filed unpaid wage claims against him and that he owes those employees more than $300,000, as well as penalties in excess of $100,000. The state’s demand letter contends that Jackson has been welshing on his employees since last December. Today’s state “stop order” bars Jackson from “using any employee labor” until he secures required workers’ compensation insurance and warns that if Jackson fails to abide by the enforced work stoppage he could be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. In addition to being fined $1000 apiece for 69 workers, Jackson is also liable for up to 10 days pay for those employees who now are no longer allowed to report to Neverland for work.
Oh yes, and since the employer is out of money to pay the workers, the state assesses a fine, to make him less able to pay them. I’d have to ask a bankruptcy lawyer, but I’ll bet the state’s fine takes precedence over the worker’s pay if this ends up in court.
Now I’m not saying those workers should keep working for free — but shouldn’t they be able to figure that out for themselves, without the state ordering them to be fired?