Brown Seeks $500,000 for Southern California Drywall Workers Denied Fair Pay

LOS ANGELES--Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today filed a lawsuit against MDP California, Inc. for "dodging fair wage and labor laws" by denying workers overtime pay, worker's compensation and pay for all hours worked. He is seeking $500,000 in restitution for cheated workers.

MDP California, a Nevada Corporation doing drywall installation throughout Southern California, also failed to pay state-mandated unemployment insurance, state disability fund payments, and state and federal taxes.

"MDP California cheated its workers and the State out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by dodging fair wage and labor laws," Brown said. "Those kinds of business practices will not be tolerated in California."

In late 2009, Brown launched an investigation into MDP California after being notified of possible worker's rights violations. The subsequent investigation found hundreds of violations of California law.

Brown's office also alleged that because the firm did not pay its workers a fair wage or pay state taxes, MDP California had an unfair advantage over its competitors and could underbid them for jobs.

Today's lawsuit contends MDP California violated:
- California Labor Code section 510 by denying overtime pay
- California Labor Code section 226 by providing wages to employees in other employees' names
- California Wage Order 16-2001(4)(A) denying pay for all hours worked
- California Labor Code section 226.7 by denying employees with a 10-minute break each four hours
- California Labor Code section 3700 by failing to pay worker's compensation insurance
- California Labor Code section 201 by failing to pay wages owed to laid-off employees immediately
- California Business and Professions Code section 17200 for engaging in unfair business practices.

According to workers interviewed by Brown's office, MDP California required workers to regularly work nine to 11 hours per day, Monday through Saturday and on sometimes on Sunday. None of the workers received any additional compensation for overtime worked.

One worker who was injured on the job was forced to take time off unpaid because he was not provided with any worker's compensation.

Last week, Brown announced his office had won restitution for over 200 employees of Charles Evleth Construction, Inc., a Bakersfield construction company. The agreement also prohibited the company from denying workers fair wages and overtime pay, paying employees in cash to avoid state and federal taxes, and permitting supervisors to take kickbacks from employees in exchange for the employees being allowed to work.

Last month, Brown announced two other lawsuits against companies that denied their workers minimum wage, overtime pay, and in some cases, subjected workers to potentially deadly working environments.

On March 10, Brown sued Juan Munoz, a farm labor contractor in Southern California, for neglecting to provide rest breaks, potable drinking water or shade to field workers.

On March 3, Brown sued Livermore-based Country Builders after the company falsified payroll records to hide underpayments, deliberately misclassified workers to reduce the company's workers' compensation premiums and violated state prevailing wage laws.

The Attorney General's investigation was conducted by his Underground Economy Unit. To protect mistreated workers, Brown created the unit in 2007 to investigate businesses for suspected violations of state wage and labor laws.