The California Labor Commissioner’s Office filed a lawsuit in August against a construction company after it was alleged that 175 workers were willfully misclassified and for other wage violations. Allegations include the failure to pay overtime, the failure to provide proper wage statements and the failure to allocate pay for sick leave.

According to the court documents, the construction company allegedly forced workers to sign contracts that classified them as independent contractors after threatening termination in August 2016. The company then reportedly used several staffing agencies to make payments to the workers. An investigation into the company was launched in October 2016 as a result.

It was alleged that the workers regularly worked 10 to 12 hour days five days a week and an additional eight hours on a weekend day. However, they were only paid the regular hourly rate for the additional hours instead of the required overtime. The lawsuit alleged that this underpayment practice occurred for a two-year period. As such, the lawsuit was seeking more than $2.5 million in unpaid wages and more than $3.7 million in penalties.

Workers who are classified as independent contractors are not eligible to receive certain benefits and are not protected by overtime or retaliation laws. For example, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in the event they are injured and can be fired in retaliation for seeking fair payment. If an employee believes he or she has been misclassified as an independent contractor and is therefore being paid less, an employee rights attorney may advocate for the worker and litigate on his or her behalf after determining if the employee has been misclassified.

Source: Cision, “Labor Commissioner’s Office Files $6.3 Million Misclassification and Wage Theft Lawsuit against Glendale Construction Company“, Aug. 14, 2017