Oakland, CA – California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su has filed a mechanic’s lien against Varsity Berkeley, a new 79-unit housing development, to recover nearly $60,000 in unpaid wages for 21 construction workers. In addition, the Labor Commissioner’s Office has cited Donohue Construction of Citrus Heights $25,500 for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance for the employees.
A collaborative inspection by the Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) and Joint Enforcement Strike Force (JESF) in July revealed that Donohue Construction, a drywall subcontractor, failed to pay the 21 employees who worked on the apartment building at 2024 Durant Ave. in Berkeley between March and July of this year. LETF and JESF are coalitions of California State and local enforcement agencies that work to combat the underground economy.
“New development can boost California’s economy, but we need to ensure workers’ rights aren’t torn down as new structures go up,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “DIR remains committed to ensuring that all workers in California are protected, both financially and physically.” LETF operates under the direction of DIR.
A mechanic’s lien is placed on a property to secure wages owed for work performed there.
“The mechanic’s lien is a significant tool that we can use to recover workers’ rightful pay because it puts a hold on the property in the amount owed to the workers,” said Labor Commissioner Su.
The wage theft investigation further revealed that some employees were paid with checks that were returned for insufficient funds.
Drywall-Lathers Local 9068 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters filed a report with LETF after several of the Varsity Berkeley workers came forward with complaints about not being paid. When LETF’s investigation discovered that Donohue Construction did not carry a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy, the Labor Commissioner’s Office placed a stop order on the company’s work and issued a $25,500 penalty assessment for employing workers on the site without coverage.
“LETF is grateful that its community partners – including Drywall-Lathers Local 9068 – report workplace labor violations and help level the playing field for honest businesses,” said Dominic Forrest, Chief of the Labor Enforcement Task Force.
Source: CA DIR