California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO) has cited a Southern California subcontractor for nearly $12 million in wage theft violations that left more than a thousand workers waiting weeks or months to be paid, only to receive a portion of what they were owed.
RDV Construction, Inc. hired crews to provide framing, drywall and other trade work for hotels, apartments and mixed-use buildings around Los Angeles, the office said in a news release. Over a 21-month period, the City of Industry-based company paid employees with checks that did not clear due to insufficient funds. After the checks bounced, RDV Construction failed to pay all wages due to the workers.
“Dodging labor laws and stealing wages hurts workers and creates unfair conditions for law-abiding employers,” California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su said in a statement. “After a hard day’s work, the last thing a construction worker should have to face is a paycheck that bounces. Stealing earned wages from workers’ pockets is illegal in California and this case shows that employers who steal from their workers will end up paying for it in the end.”
The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched its investigation in January 2017 and determined that between 2014 and 2017, RDV employed more than 1,000 workers at 35 construction sites in the region, and typically worked their crews nine hours a day without proper rest breaks or overtime. Investigators also found the employer habitually and illegally withheld 10 to 25 percent of earned wages from the workers.
The citations issued total $11,943,054 payable to workers in unpaid wages and premiums including:
- $5,407,944 in waiting time penalties for failing to timely pay 1,089 employees;
- $1,623,020 for minimum wage violations affecting 844 employees;
- $1,692,430 in liquidated damages for those minimum wage violations;
- $1,769,782 for failing to provide proper rest breaks to 1,125 employees;
- $566,897 for failing to properly pay 1,111 workers overtime; and
- $882,981 for improper wage statements issued to 1,109 employees
RDV Construction Chief Executive Officer Rafael Rivas as well as project managers Juan Rivas and Nicolas Del Villar are jointly and severally liable for the citations issued to the corporation.
The LCO launched an investigation of the company after workers complained about pay violations to Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee, a non-profit labor-management organization.
“The Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee has been an excellent partner in identifying cases that will not only benefit the directly affected workers but also send a strong message to the industry,” said Su.
When workers are paid less than minimum wage, they are entitled to liquidated damages that equal the amount of underpaid wages plus interest. Waiting time penalties are imposed when the employer intentionally fails to pay all wages due to the employee at the time of separation. This penalty is calculated by taking the employee’s daily rate of pay and multiplying it by the number of days the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days.
Most workers in California must receive a paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked. If workers do not receive rest breaks as required by Industrial Welfare Commission orders for their occupation, the employer must pay one hour of pay at the worker’s regular pay rate for each workday that the break is not provided, and civil penalties of $50 per worker per pay period for the initial violation, which increases to $100 each for subsequent violations.