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California Labor Commissioner orders contractor to pay $1.3 million for wage violations

Russell/Thompson, Inc, a framing contractor, must pay $1.3 million in wages and $200,000 in fines for failure to pay 74 employees wages for their work at Tercero Housing Project at the University of California, Davis, announced California State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. Bradstreet issued a civil wage and penalty assessment in an effort to collect the money owed to the employees. An investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations Division (DIR) of Labor Standards Enforcement uncovered evidence that Russell/Thompson willfully violated California law by failing to pay proper prevailing wages on a public works project at UC Davis. Russell/Thompson failed to pay overtime and misclassified workers by identifying them at lower paying positions rather than higher-rate skilled positions that they worked. The investigation also uncovered that Russell/Thompson falsified payroll records. UC Davis hired Brown Construction, Inc as the general contractor who in turn contracted with 84 Lumber, Inc to perform the framing work on the Tercero Project. 84 Lumber, Inc subcontracted the job to Russell/Thompson, who performed the framing work. Bradstreet also served a civil wage and penalty assessment against Brown Construction, Inc. and 84 Lumber, Inc.

“Our investigation uncovered serious wage violations in this case,” said Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. “We believe the employer intentionally underpaid its workers. This not only robs those employees of the money they earned, it also hurts other contractors who chose to do the right thing and comply with the law. I believe the action my office is taking against Russell/Thompson and 84 Lumber, Inc. will serve as a deterrent to any company that is thinking about undermining its employees or the state’s wage laws.”

“Prime contractors cannot plead ignorance when their subcontractors fail to follow California’s labor law,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “The state holds seminars and outreach events to make sure contractors across California are aware of the specific requirements involving public works projects. These requirements are designed to ensure that public money is being spent properly. Our enforcement efforts are intended to help fight California’s underground economy and help compliant businesses compete fairly.”