As reported in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report, three contractors were found by the California Labor Commissioner to have “willfully” violated state wage and apprenticeship laws. The contractors were ordered to pay over $1.8 million in back wages, apprenticeship funds, fines and penalties.
The Labor Commissioner’s office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints and enforces state labor law. In announcing the fines, Commissioner Julie A. Su remarked, “Let these enforcement actions serve as notice that wage theft—whether it be through nonpayment of overtime, failure to pay proper prevailing wage, underreporting of hours worked, bounced checks used to pay working people, and cheating on apprenticeship training funds—will not be tolerated in this state.”
Three separate investigations by the Commissioner’s office into B.A. Marble & Granite, Inc. of North Hollywood, Phoenix Floors of Orange and Johnson Business Holdings, dba Production Plumbing of Rancho Santa Margarita revealed willful labor law violations that adversely affected 94 workers. The violations were largely for failure to pay proper wage rates and overtime, but include underreporting hours, misclassifying workers and falsifying documents.
Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, has been quoted as saying, “The Labor Commissioner has reinvigorated public works enforcement in the state.” In all, the Commissioner ordered the contractors to pay a total of $998,376 in back wages, and $806,355 in penalties and fines, a reminder that government contractors must be mindful not just of anti-discrimination obligations, but also wage-hour compliance.