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Wage theft violations in the California construction industry

Wage theft may happen in a variety of ways and it is important to look out for them as an employee in any industry. Sometimes it involves working while not clocked in. Other times it involves unpaid overtime.

As the California Department of Industrial Relations reports, the Labor Commissioner’s Office cited a drywall company in 2021 for millions of dollars in wage theft on account of non-productive time requirements.

Piece-rate and minimum wage

The Labor Enforcement Task Force in California investigates wage theft in a number of ways. This includes payroll audits in order to determine labor law violations like unpaid overtime or disregarding minimum wage laws.

The term piece-rate refers to how employers pay workers a set amount per project. California law requires employers to compensate their workers during their non-productive time with these agreements.

Enforcement officials found that the drywall company failed to pay for time on the clock not related to the piece-rate project. The citations total up to nearly $5 million in unpaid wages and damages. Some of these citations affected over 720 workers. The Labor Commissioner cited the corporation and its president another $2.3 million in violation fines.

Wage theft and damages

Employees worried they are not receiving their fair pay may want to lean on their coworkers and other resources to secure their stolen wages from employers. Workers who suffer from wage theft may receive liquidated damages. This equals the unpaid wage amount plus interest.

Wage theft affects all workers and California law seeks to support and protect their rights before, during and after an investigation like the reported story.  If you think you may be a victim of wage theft, you may want to speak with an employment attorney.


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