California Labor Law Violation: Workers Exploited


Sacramento, CA In a telling testament to the possibilities inherent with standing up for your rights and fighting back, two alleged violations of California state labor law have been thrust into the headlines. One is an action by employees while another is by the state attempting to protect workers within the provisions of California labor employment law. Either way, California labor laws are to be respected or consequences will ensue.

IT WorkerIt appears as if justice will prevail for employees holding the job titles of Systems Integrators and Graphics System Validation Engineers, after their action against Intel has been granted class certification status in Superior Court of California, County Santa Clara.

Intel is the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips for the computer industry. And yet, even given that status it appears to be not above the alleged practice of misclassifying employees with the intent to freeze them out from receiving the overtime pay they are owed.

While the granting of class action status cannot be seen as a ruling on the merits of the case, insiders report that the plaintiffs are one step closer to potentially claiming back overtime pay and other related costs.

There are strict provisions in California labor law governing the computer IT industry and software engineers in particular, with overtime considered exempt with regard to certain job classifications and work that is performed.

Companies that employ software engineers and computer professionals have been known to bend the rules and play fast and loose with classification parameters, in an effort to avoid paying overtime and thereby reducing costs. However, computer IT professionals work hard enough without giving up extra pay that is their due. Many are fighting back through lawsuits.

Meanwhile the California State Labor Commissioner has yanked the carpet out from under a California provider of flooring. All Floor Commercial and Residential Flooring and its owner have been frozen out of participating in public tenders for 3 years after serious violations of public works laws were found, together with a 'clear intent of fraud.'

The list of alleged misdeeds, which are presumed given the State's position, is a sorry example of how an employer is capable of taking advantage of employees who are probably impoverished to begin with.

Among the allegations and evidence uncovered during work completed by the company in 2007 and 2008:

Failure to pay proper prevailing wage rates; Misclassification of workers; Failure to pay travel and mileage reimbursements; Falsification of certified payroll records; Falsely reported work hours of employees.

The investigation also revealed that the contractor maintained two separate sets of books in which they falsely reported dates, hours and projects on which employees worked. The contractor was also found to routinely misclassify employees as lower-paid laborers to avoid paying the higher wage. In some cases the workers were paid less then half the required prevailing wage for their true classification.

As a result of the investigation and evidence found, the Labor Commissioner issued an Order of Debarment against the firm.

"The debarment proceedings are necessary to remove employers operating in an illegal manner at taxpayer expense and to the detriment of employees on public works projects," said California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. "The action that I am taking will help to create a level playing field for legitimate employers operating in this tough economic time.

"Our investigation revealed serious violations of the public works laws and a clear intent of fraud against employees and the awarding bodies on two separate projects," Bradstreet continued. "I cannot allow a company to continue operating while deliberately taking advantage of their employees and the tax payers who fund these public works projects."

While it is a sad state of affairs to witness such blatant violations of workers' rights and California labor laws??"especially in the midst of one of the toughest economies in decades??"it is heartening to know that California state labor law is defended and upheld on behalf of workers made to suffer from unscrupulous employers that have little regard for California labor employment law. If you know of, or suspect, such a violation in your own workplace, don't take the abuse. Fight it, with the help of an attorney.

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