The California Labor Commission is taking a hard stance on what it calls “wage theft” by general contractors working on public projects. In some of the cases noted by the Commission, the violations were egregious and intended; however, we know that many well-meaning employers often mis-classify employees by sheer misunderstanding of the law. With this new increased scrutiny, California contractors must make sure that they are abiding by the labor laws.
The Labor Commissioner’s office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints and enforces state labor law. The Commission is taking a stance by issuing large fines to contractors who fail to comply with California employment laws, and it recently issued more than $2.6 million in wage, training fund, and penalty assessments to nine contractors in less than 45 days.
“Let these enforcement actions serve as notice that wage theft – whether it be through nonpayment of overtime, failure to pay proper prevailing wage, under reporting of hours worked, bounced checks used to pay working people, and cheating on apprenticeship training funds, – will not be tolerated in this state,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.
A few of the specific cases are listed below along with the violations and assessments.
- A tile contractor was ordered to pay $539,051 in wages, $4,693 in apprenticeship training funds and $652,600 in fines for the failure to pay 55 employees the proper wage for installing tile in bathrooms in a UCLA project.
- A flooring contractor was ordered to pay $275,518 in wages, $5,599 in apprenticeship training funds and $123,150 in penalties for willful labor law violations committed at the South Orange County Community College District project.
- A plumbing contractor was ordered to pay $183,807 in wages, $6,385 in apprenticeship training funds and $30,605 in penalties for issuing checks with nonsufficient funds, underreporting hours, and misclassifying nine workers in order to pay a lower prevailing wage rate.
If you are wondering if you are complying with California labor laws, the best advice is to have an employment and labor lawyer review your practices. Cummins & White’s Labor and Employment Practice Group assists clients with a wide range of matters: employment and human resources counseling, preventive labor and employee relations for non-union employers, and union negotiations and contract administration for unionized employers.
While we aim to help clients minimize risk and avoid liability, employment-related claims are unfortunately proliferating. Our lawyers are experienced in handling all aspects of employment litigation, including individual or class action lawsuits and proceedings before administrative agencies.