FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2010
CA Labor Commissioner Wins Nearly $4 Million Judgment in Fight for Janitors’ Rights
Los Angeles, CA – A subcontractor that provided janitorial services to retail businesses across the state has been ordered to pay $3.9 million in owed wages and penalties after Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet filed a civil suit seeking a default judgment. E & R Services, Inc. was based out of Las Vegas but had janitorial contracts in California with FoodMaxx supermarkets and Fry’s Electronics.
The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Labor Standards Enforcement first launched its investigation after initially receiving wage claims from 15 employees who worked in several Northern California cities including San Jose, Oakland, Sunnyvale and Fremont. The Division discovered that E & R Services failed to properly pay at least 50 employees who worked across California from December 2006 through January 2009.
“This case is nothing short of routine and systematic fraud. It is a testament to the fact that workers who are being denied their rights can make a difference,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “Cases like this help fight California’s underground economy that not only robs hard-working people of the money they deserve but also impedes the success of companies that are following the law.”
A default judgment was filed in State Superior Court in Los Angeles County after E & R Services failed to make an appearance or respond to an initial complaint. This is the first default judgment ever to include a violation of Labor Code section 2810, which makes it illegal to subcontract janitorial and other services without providing sufficient funding to allow the subcontractor to comply with all laws. The Labor Commissioner’s Office determined that E & R Services provided insufficient funds to subcontractors for janitorial work. E & R Services is no longer in business.
“California will not tolerate employers who operate in total disregard of the law and try to increase their profits by underfunding subcontractors, cheating workers out of wages and undermining the ability of legitimate competitors to compete for work in this tough economic climate,” said Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. “Labor Code Section 2810 was created specifically for violations like this to address the particular problems faced by low wage workers who are oftentimes more vulnerable to being exploited.”
The investigation found that the company paid employees a fixed sum of $60 a day, which resulted in minimum wage violations. E & R Services also failed to pay overtime, did not provide employees with meal and rest breaks and evaded payroll taxes.
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner’s Office) adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. To learn more about the functions of the California Labor Commissioner, visit our web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dlse. Employees with work-related questions or complaints, including heat illness, may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757.
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