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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Contractor ordered to pay $1 million in wages and penalties

A plumbing contractor has been ordered to pay more than $1 million to the state and to workers on a Stockton public works project after an investigation revealed that 44 employees had not been paid proper wages for their work. The labor commissioner assessed penalties as part of the total wage and hour violations order. The commissioner hopes to force the company to pay workers over $800,000 in unpaid wages.

The company was found to have willfully ignored the law that requires contractors on public projects to pay a specified minimum wage to workers. The company also failed to pay for overtime hours worked and changed its records to falsify the number of hours employees had actually worked.

Under California law, the chief contractor on a job can be held responsible if subcontractors fail to follow the law regarding wages and reported hours as well. The general contractor hired the company under investigation and was also assessed fines and penalties.

In this case, the alleged wage and hour discrimination and fraud were on such a large scale that the commissioner became involved. In many cases, however, workers must handle wage problems on their own. An employment attorney may be able to help workers who have been denied their fair wages, overtime pay or other compensation to understand the laws that govern fair pay and to receive the unpaid amounts. Employees who have been denied compensation are protected by the law, but they must exercise their rights to obtain back pay. They may also be entitled to additional payments, depending on the situation.

Source: The Record, "Delta College contractor fined by state," Reed Fujii, Nov. 7, 2012

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