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Calcrete to Pay Out Over $1M in Wage Theft Violations

Labor Commission Lilia Garcia- Brower and her team with members of Quad C and complainants

Last week, Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower and the Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee (Quad C), held a press conference in Buena Park, Ca, to announce the settlement of a lawsuit against Calcrete Construction Inc. The Glendale-based company settled for over $1 million for numerous violations related to wage theft. These violations include breaches of overtime and paid sick leave laws, impacting 249 construction workers.

“This employer used various illegal tactics to circumvent paying owed wages,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “My team responded aggressively to recover stolen wages and expose systemic violations.”

According to a press release from the California Department of Industrial Relations, the Office of the Labor Commissioner initiated an investigation based on a complaint from the Carpenters/Contractors Cooperation Committee. The Quad C is a non-profit organization that advocates for workplace compliance in the construction industry. The investigation revealed that Calcrete failed to compensate workers for overtime, allocate pay for sick leave, and provide accurate wage statements. Calcrete employees consistently worked 45-68 hours weekly without receiving overtime pay during the audited period from 2014 to 2016. The settlement aims to pay workers their owed overtime wages with interest, ranging from $344 to $20,893.

Garcia-Brower looks on as checks are dispersed

Garcia- Brower tells BDN, "Our hope is that employers understand that we are going to hold them responsible... even when you pull tactics the way this employer did, our agency is prepared to follow that all the way through.. despite all of their efforts to avoid liability, they are no longer operating and we were able to recover wages. The workers were made whole."

Enforcement investigations typically involve a thorough audit of payroll records from previous years to identify minimum wage, overtime, and other labor law violations, determining owed payments and penalties. In cases where workers are paid less than the minimum wage, they are entitled to liquidated damages equal to the underpaid minimum wages plus interest.

Garcia- Brower considers this a ground breaking case. "We were able to in fact stop the illegal transfer of assets. Too often the transfer happens before we even realize it. Our collaboration with Quad C and their continued conversations with the workers along with our team's conversations with workers is what made that possible."

Outreach is Key

In 2020, the Labor Commissioners Office launched an outreach campaign called "Reaching Every Californian." The program aims to educate workers and employers about their legal protections and obligations, as well as familiarize them with the Labor Commissioner’s enforcement procedures.

"We are prioritizing those communities that don't know how to get to the Labor Commissioners office...every working family should know who we are and how to get to us. We're building more tools. On our website we're using more videos and we're going out into the community providing workshops and information in safe spaces."

Garcia- Brower recognizes that despite best efforts to educate workers, there is still work to be done in making government agencies less intimidating. She stressed how important relationships with community partners with boots on the ground like the Quad C are to the process. "Workers have the trust of these community leaders and will listen more calmly and understand what their rights are...especially individuals that have vulnerable circumstances around their employment. That's why community partners like Quad C, trusted leaders in the community- the workers are much more comfortable talking to them. So they're our eyes and ears out there."

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