California Agencies Team Up to Crack Down on Workers' Comp Violators

Several California state agencies have issued more than $35,000 in fines and four criminal complaints for workers' compensation violations after teaming up for an unannounced enforcement sweep of construction sites in Santa Clara County.

The participating agencies -- the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the California Employment Development Department and the California Department of Insurance -- on March 17 concluded a 2-day sweep of inspections to check for employer compliance with state workplace rules, following a request by the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office.

The sweep came on the heels of a sting operation by the Contractors State License Board and the Santa Clara County DA's Office, creating what the state called a "two-pronged enforcement approach" aimed at unlicensed contractors and workers' compensation violators.

During the sweep, three teams of investigators from the partner agencies swept through a geographic area in Santa Clara County with active construction sites looking for labor law violations.

The results of the sweep included:

  • 7 violations of workers' compensation requirements, resulting in $35,000 in penalties
  • 2 violations for not providing deduction statements with the wages, resulting in $9,750 in penalties
  • 7 companies with payroll records that will be reviewed by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to ensure compliance
  • 11 notice-to-discontinue violations issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
  • 18 companies whose files will be reviewed for compliance by the Employment Development Department
  • 4 criminal complaints for no workers' compensation coverage to be filed by the Department of Insurance and the Santa Clara County DA
  • 1 criminal complaint against an unlicensed contractor to be filed by the Department of Insurance and the Santa Clara County DA.

In addition, the License Board and the Santa Clara DA's Office cited approximately 53 unlicensed contractors with criminal citations.

"In California, all workers have rights and it is our goal to protect them," state Labor Commissioner Donna Dell said. "Also, responsible employers deserve vigorous enforcement to level the playing field. Using a multi-agency approach to an enforcement sweep leverages government resources and encourages unscrupulous employers -- who gain an unfair economic advantage by not following the rules -- to come into compliance.

"Our enforcement efforts are also an opportunity to educate employers and employees on their rights and responsibilities under the law. Employers are required by law to maintain a workers' compensation policy to protect employees who may be injured on the job."

This is not the first instance in which various agencies in California have partnered to crack down on employer compliance. Earlier this month, state and county agencies conducted an enforcement sweep of Los Angeles County businesses suspected of operating without workers' compensation insurance.

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