- The California Department of Industrial Relations announced Tuesday that the state's Labor Commissioner's Office has issued wage theft violation citations in the amount of $1.9 million to Fullerton, California-based Fullerton Pacific Interiors for failure to fully pay 476 employees on 26 southern California construction projects from August 2014 to June 2016.
- Investigators found that Fullerton failed to provide its drywall installers and tapers with legally required rest periods, paid almost 290 workers merely a daily rate that did not include compensation for overtime work and paid less than the minimum wage to another 28. In California, most workers are entitled to either payment for a 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked or an extra hour of pay for days when those paid breaks are not provided.
- Out of the $1.9 million penalty, Fullerton owes almost $800,000 for rest periods, almost $387,000 for unpaid overtime, more than $692,000 for wage statement violations and more than $14,000 for shortages of minimum wage pay. The company must also pay $72,000 of civil penalties. The state began its investigation after receiving worker complaints through the nonprofit Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee.
"Wage theft" is the umbrella term for when contractors intentionally underpay their employees, and there are initiatives underway around the country to battle it.
At the forefront of efforts to make sure workers are paid a fair wage is Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. At the end of last year, Vance said the Manhattan DA's office would actively pursue cases of wage theft. That announcement came at the same time as news that Vance's office and officials in surrounding counties had charged area construction companies and their owners with stealing approximately $2.5 million in wages from more than 400 construction workers. The amounts ranged from $13,000 to $700,000 per company and included checks returned for insufficient funds and failure to pay prevailing wage or overtime.
In May, Vance's office announced that it had charged a city contractor and some of its executives in a wage fraud case worth $9.5 million. Prosecutors alleged that Parkside Construction, from 2014 to 2017, underpaid more than 500 workers $1.7 million and underreported its payroll to the New York State Insurance Fund by $42 million in order to get out of paying almost $8 million in workers' compensation insurance premiums. During the period in question, Parkside and affiliated companies performed more than $100 million of concrete and masonry work on about seven city high-rise projects.