CAUTIONARY TALES EPISODE 6 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Labor Commissioner’s Office Awards $3.5 Million Against Oakland Contractor:

The California Labor Commissioner cited Oakland construction contractor, Attic Pros, and its owner for misclassifying 119 workers as independent contractors. The Commissioner ordered the company to pay more than $3.5 million, including unpaid minimum wages and overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties, and civil penalties for violations during a 32-month period.

The Commissioner awarded $3.5 million based on 10–14 hour workdays up to six days a week, but the company paid them a daily rate amounting to less than minimum wage.

The award consisted of:

  • $191,400 for minimum wage;
  • $321,300 for overtime;
  • $191,400 in liquidated damages (a type of fine that doubles the minimum wage payment);
  • $1,405,350 in waiting time penalties (up to 30 days of extra pay for not paying all wages due when an employee leaves the company); and
  • $1,481,600 in civil penalties.

Commissioner Julie Su stated: “This is an egregious case of wage theft, with workers misclassified and denied a just day’s pay. My office enforces California’s labor laws to stop employers willing to cheat employees of their pay as a means to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.”

Misclassification of employees as independent contractors can become a costly proposition. Whether someone is an independent contractor or should be classified as an employee is a legal question based upon multiple factors in the relationship, and is not merely a matter of choice by the parties. Various government agencies have posted guidance online for making a correct classification determination. See Independent Contractor (Self – Employed) or Employee? and EDD Employment Determination Guide. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE)  has posted on its website frequently asked questions for proper classification of workers.

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If you need assistance to determine how to classify employees correctly, please contact one of our attorneys, Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

November 20, 2017

Helena Kobrin