On August 13th, 2013

Wage Theft Investigation Construction Workers Shorted Nearly a Quarter Million Dollars

There is a Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) in California and based on the latest lien to recover unpaid wages,  it means business.    The task force includes members of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) who are  investigators with the Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Labor Commissioner's Office and Cal/OSHA, as well as the Employment Development Department (EDD), Contractors State License Board (CSLB), Alcoholic Beverage Control  (ABC) and the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

According to a DIR news release: On Monday, August 12, 2013, California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su filed a mechanics’ lien to recover unpaid wages totaling $247,681 for 31 construction workers employed at the Holiday Inn Express construction project in Eureka from January through May 2013. The investigation was conducted on March 27 by the Labor Commissioner’s  office and CalOSHA as part of a joint enforcement action by LETF.

The local carpenters union, Carpenters Local 751, filed a report of labor law violations against the construction project of the Holiday Inn Express at 815 West Wabash St., in Eureka. Redwood Coast Hospitality, LLC hired general contractor Jansen Construction to build the hotel. Jansen Construction subcontracted with PacWest Contracting LLC, a company headquartered in Bend, Oregon that was not properly licensed as a California contractor. PacWest Contracting LLC then hired employees under the guise of independent contractors to perform the work on the project.

"Investigators discovered employees were misclassified as independent contractors which was a way to pay them less," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "On top of that, they found some employees were paid with checks that bounced.   Everyone deserves a chance to earn a fair wage. "

The joint enforcement conducted on March 27 also uncovered 13 workplace safety violations including five categorized as serious for unsafe ladders, failure to provide fall protection, inadequate training to recognize fall hazards and unguarded saws. As a result, Cal/OSHA issued citations against Lupton Construction/PacWest for $27,000 on May 7.

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