The California Labor Commission, also known as the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is a division of the Department of Industrial Relations, is “reinvigorating” its enforcement actions against public contractors that try to dodge the state’s wage and labor laws. Recently, the Commission issued orders and hefty fines to nine contractors for violations totaling over $2.6 million in the last 45 days:
- (UCLA student housing) B.A. Marble & Granite Inc.: Ordered to pay $539,051 in wages, $4,693 in apprenticeship training funds and $652,600 in fines failing to pay 55 employees the proper wages when installing tile in bathrooms;
- (South Orange County Community College) Phoenix Floors: Ordered to pay $275,518 in wages, $5,599 in apprenticeship training funds and $123,150 in penalties for willful labor law violations and underreporting paying workers who were installing vinyl flooring;
- (LA Charter School) Johnson Business Holdings, dba Production Plumbing: Ordered to pay $183,807 in wages, $6,385 in apprenticeship training funds and $30,605 in penalties for violations in paying employees with bounced checks, underreported hours and misclassifying employees who were installing plumbing at the project;
- (Contras Costa sewer, low-income housing, police station) Joseph Brothers, Inc., jointly with the three general contractors: Ordered to pay a combined $310,686 in wages and penalties as a result of the violations for bounced checks and wage violations;
- (Oakland Library Branch) NBC General Contractors: Ordered to pay $299,500 for shorting hours and forcing kickbacks from workers. Significantly, Monica Ung, President of NBC General Contractors, was charged by the Alameda DA and plead guilty to felonies involving the kickback of wages and insurance premium fraud; and
- (CSULA building) Icon Metal Works Inc.: Ordered to pay $129,562 in wages, $47,575 in prevailing wage fines for underpayment and $28,700 in apprenticeship fines.
Also according to the Commissioner, “[i]n 2012, my Public Works team assessed $25 million in wages and civil penalties, the highest amount in a decade.” For details regarding these matters, see the Commission’s recent publications: http://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2013/IR2013-24.pdf#zoom=100 and http://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2013/IR2013-22.pdf#zoom=100 and http://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2013/IR2013-21.pdf#zoom=100.
Notably as well for contractors, the foregoing violations may rise to the level of a misdemeanor or felony. But, even if not criminal conduct, such actions will likely amount to license violations subjecting the contractor to a Contractor State Licensing Board discipline investigation, hearing and suspension or revocation of its license.