Earlier this month, Universal Structural Building Corp. of Chatsworth, California, was cited for $597,933 in unpaid wages and penalties after 62 construction workers were never paid for weeks of work on two projects in Hollywood and Ventura, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations

A general contractor for one of the projects, J.H McCormick Inc., was also responsible for $68,657 of the citations due to a section of the labor code added in 2018 which holds general contractors liable for their subcontractor’s wage theft violations. 

Universal Structural Building is a subcontractor that provides concrete building services in Los Angeles and Ventura. Universal signed a contract with J.H McCormick in 2018 for the Essex Hollywood, a residential and commercial project. Employees came to the Labor Commissioner’s Office in November after working multiple days without pay for the final weeks of that project. Investigators filed a mechanic’s lien in December to secure $110,000 for 39 of the 42 workers impacted by the wage theft on this project.

Another group of Universal workers also reported wage theft at the Portside Ventura Harbor project. The Labor Commissioner’s Office filed another mechanic’s lien against Universal to secure $26,464 in wages for 20 workers. The project’s general contractor could not be held liable because the contract began before January 1, 2018.

The investigation into both projects determined that Universal Structural Building employees are owed $477,533 in unpaid wages and penalties, with an additional $49,220 for contract wages due. Citations issued include:

  • $62,207 in unpaid minimum wages and $64,131 in liquidated damages for 62 employees
  • $4,900 in unpaid overtime for 37 employees
  • $15,950 for wage statement violations owed to 62 employees
  • $330,345 in waiting time penalties owed to 62 employees
  • $120,400 in civil penalties, including $15,000 for misclassifying a foreman as an exempt employee

The Labor Commissioner’s Office has filed a civil action with the Los Angeles Superior Court against J.H McCormick to help secure funds to pay back wages. You can read the full press release form the California DIR for more details. 

At CPW, our labor compliance experts help California Contractors navigate the complicated and ever-changing world of prevailing wage and avoid situations like this. If you have questions about wage determination for prevailing wage projects, dealing with an audit or citation, or just want to better train yourself and your employees, we can help. Give us a call 888-500-5525.