Labor Commissioner Cites Janitorial Company Nearly $460,000 for Wage Theft

17 Aug, 2015, 13:02 ET from California Labor Commissioner from ,California Department of Industrial Relations

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su has issued citations of $459,573 to a janitorial employer after an investigation uncovered wage theft violations affecting 12 workers, many of them recent immigrants from El Salvador. Norcal Floor Services, Inc., based in North Highlands, paid the janitors an average of $7.53 per hour.

The investigation and a two-year pay audit from June 2012 to June 2014 revealed that managers threatened to fire workers who complained about working up to seven days in a row every week, for up to 9 hours a day, without breaks of any kind.  

"When scofflaw employers exploit their workers by circumventing wage and labor laws, it puts honest businesses at a disadvantage," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR.) The Labor Commissioner's Office, officially known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is a division of DIR.

A few of the janitors contacted the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), a janitorial watchdog organization, about the workplace abuses. MCTF helped them file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner's Office.

"Janitors' work is often hidden from public view, which can lead to abuse by unscrupulous employers. I applaud MCTF for assisting these workers in exercising their labor rights," said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. "MCTF's partnership with my office has helped us tremendously in our effort to level the playing field for honest janitorial businesses and protect the wage floor in California."

The sanctions against Norcal Floor Services include $456,073 in assessments for unpaid minimum wages and overtime, liquidated damages, and rest and meal period premiums. Additionally, the Labor Commissioner assessed $3,500 in penalties for violating overtime, minimum wage, rest and meal period requirements, and for failing to provide itemized wage statements. The janitors' payments range from $560 to $81,915, based on the amount of time worked during the audit period.

Norcal Floor Services was subcontracted to provide janitorial services at nine Food 4 Less and six Rancho San Miguel markets located in Ceres, Greenfield, Lodi, Los Banos, Merced, Madera, Manteca, Modesto, Sacramento, Salinas and Stockton. The Food 4 Less and Rancho San Miguel market chains are owned by PAQ Inc., which entered into a contract with Reflectech, Inc. for general janitorial services. Reflectech then hired subcontractor Norcal Floor Services, Inc.

Among its wide-ranging enforcement responsibilities, the Labor Commissioner's Office inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses and educates the public on labor laws. The Labor Commissioner's Office, officially known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a division of DIR.

The Wage Theft is a Crime public awareness campaign, launched last year by DIR and its Labor Commissioner's Office, has helped inform workers of their rights. The campaign includes multilingual print and outdoor advertising as well as radio commercials on ethnic stations in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR's Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers' Information line at 866-924-9757 also offers recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR's press releases or other departmental updates.

The California Department of Industrial Relations, established in 1927, protects and improves the health, safety, and economic well-being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. DIR is housed within the Labor & Workforce Development Agency. For general inquiries, contact DIR's Communications Call Center at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734) for help in locating the appropriate division or program in our department.

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SOURCE California Labor Commissioner; California Department of Industrial Relations