Council Candidate Steve Brown Dogged by Claims of Wage Theft, Wrongful Termination

In his bid for a San Jose City Council seat, Steve Brown brags about his entrepreneurial savvy. Founder of a security firm that puts 120 people to work in four states, the District 2 candidate won the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement over his labor-backed opponent, Sergio Jimenez. But Brown, who excused himself from day-to-day management at Echelon Security to focus on his election run last fall, might want to reconsider boasting about his record as “a successful businessman,” to quote his campaign website. Records indicate that Echelon put the squeeze on employees by paying them as little as possible—sometimes violating the law. The California Labor Commissioner recently ordered Echelon to pay a fired minimum wage-earning bookkeeper, Linda Fairfield, more than $58,000 in unpaid overtime. Last year, a security guard named Daniel Sullivan won a $5,700 judgment for being denied meal breaks and having to report to work early without pay. Justin Adams landed a $4,700 claim against the company in 2014, while Obadiah Lewis filed a wrongful termination lawsuit this past March. One-star reviews on Yelp and employer review sites echo similar problems. Calls for comment went to Brown’s voicemail, but he texted back to say that while he remains a shareholder in Echelon, he is no longer “an active managing board member.” The regulatory actions, however, took place before he stepped down last year. In a labor hearing on Feb. 9, 2015, Brown even appeared in person as Echelon’s president. “There isn’t much I would know about any of that,” he insisted by text. “I can get updates at the next shareholders meeting.” Brown’s election opponent, Jimenez, called the labor violations another expression of Brown’s “dangerous ideology,” the other being Brown’s well-documented meltdown over LGBTQ issues. “Wage theft is a serious problem,” Jimenez said, “and keeps many families struggling or even in poverty.”

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Source: California Labor Commissioner

Read Barnabus S.'s review of Echelon Security on Yelp

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

5 Comments

  1. Steve The Clown Brown is at it again. He’s a coward and a liar (but we already knew that)

    Stealing wages from your employees is the lowest and scumbag’iest action an employer can do, how very Donald Trump of Steve.

  2. Think about it. Put yourself on these employees place. Your mortgage is due. Your kids need clothing for school. Your wife needs to buy food. But there is no money in the bank account. A few checks are bouncing. Bank fees are piling up. Steve Brown is around driving his Beamer or his Jeep or perhaps his wife car. Not at home – but at his mother in law house where he moved in order to be able to run for the Council. On November 8th Vote for Sergio Jimenez!

  3. Can I shed some light on how simple it is to get the Wage Commissioner to give away your money to the people who file claims? Thank you:

    Our company hosted a talk by a represenrtative of the Wage Commissioner’s office. The rep was clearly trying to get some business. But that’s OK, I understand how bureaucrats think.

    Anyway, in his talk, the rep gave a recent example of a Wage Commssioner (WC) claim:

    A kid’s girlfriend worked at a pizza joint. She got off after all the chairs were put up on tables and the floor was swept, etc.

    But the boyfriend naturally wanted her to get off STAT. So he helped her put up the chairs, sweep the floor, etc. Then after about a year, they broke up.

    The ex-boyfriend filed a wage claim, saying he was ‘employed’ by the pizza shop’s owner.

    But the owner showed up at the hearing, and testified that he had never asked the kid to do any work. In fact, he said he wasn’t even present when it was happening. In fact, he said he was always in the back doing the books after closing, and he wasn’t even aware that the boyfriend was there. He said he certainly hadn’t hired the boyfriend, or indicated in any other way that he wanted or needed the kid to do any work, and that the boyfriend was never his employee. For his part, the boyfriend didn’t contradict anything the owner said, and the ‘employee’ had nothing showing that he was ever working for the small business owner.

    So, what happened? Here’s what: The WC still forced the pizza place owner to pay the boyfriend for all the hours he claimed.

    Carlos asks, above:

    “Think about it. Put yourself on these employees place.”

    Hey Carlos, think about this: Put yourself in the business owner’s place: open a pizza joint! Then you could give all your money to someone you don’t know; someone you never asked to help. Someone you didn’t even know was ‘working’.

    And you wouldn’t even need the busybody WC to do it for you. It’s your money, right? And you’re a good person, right? Connect the dots…

    See, there are always two sides to every story. But as usual, SJI only shows us one side.

    Thanx, Fly. At least you didn’t claim to be fair, evenhanded, and impartial…

    …but, have you ever?