FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2010-18
June 10, 2010

CONTACT:
Krisann Chasarik
Dean Fryer
415-703-5050

Internet: www.dir.ca.gov


CA Labor Commissioner issues $1.5 million in penalties to Davis contractor

Davis, CA—California State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet today ordered Russell/Thompson, Inc., a framing contractor, to pay $1.3 million in wages and $200,000 in fines for failure to pay 74 employees the proper wage for their work at Tercero Housing Project at the University of California, Davis.   The Labor Commissioner issued a civil wage and penalty assessment in an effort to collect the money owed to the workers.

“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.”
 
An investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Labor Standards Enforcement uncovered evidence which established that Russell/Thompson willfully violated the 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 as lower paying positions rather than higher rate skilled positions that they worked.  It was 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 actually performed the framing work.  The Labor Commissioner also served a civil wage and penalty assessment against Brown Construction, Inc. and 84 Lumber, Inc.

“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.”

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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