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Construction Law Update Archives

Off-the-Books Laborers Expose California Contractors to Severe Penalties

In California, the number of off-the-books and misclassified laborers has increased a dramatic 400% since 1972; likely the result of contractors' willingness to tap the fringes for cheaper labor in an effort to keep project costs to a minimum and maximize profits.  Of the nearly 900,000 construction workers in California, 143,900 workers provide off-the-books labor and another 39,800 are misclassified by their employer as independent contractors.  

Bulletin: California Public Works Contractors and Subcontractors Must Register!

Summary: Public works contractors and subcontractors take note- a new law requires you to register with the California Department of Industrial Relations as of July 1, 2014, even if your current public works project is already underway.  Failure to register disqualifies you from the bidding and contracting process, can cause an outright bid rejection and/or contract cancellation and can void or cancel an existing contract.  

Contractors, Architects and Owners Beware: Beacon Residential creates a duty of care by architects to homeowners associations

On July 3rd in Beacon Residential Community Assn v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (Case No. S208173) the California Supreme Court confirmed that construction design professionals owe a duty of care to third party property purchasers who did not hire or contract with the professionals. This landmark decision is a game-changer for owners, architects and contractors alike, as liability for design and defect issues now directly impacts architects and may lead to added construction costs.

SWIFT Operation Nabs a Dozen Unlicensed California Contractors

As we previously reported, California is getting tough on those who hold themselves out to be contractors but are in fact, unlicensed. May 22nd saw the state flexing its regulatory muscle by citing 12 unlicensed contractors in a sting in Belmont, California. This clearly shows that California will not tolerate those who attempt to perform work without the appropriate licensure.

California Implements "SWIFT" Attack Against Unlicensed Contractors

In an effort to enforce California's longstanding public policy against unlicensed contractor work, the Contractor State License Board ("CSLB") recently concluded an undercover sting operation that led to the arrest of more than 120 individuals for violations of California's strict licensure laws.

California Legislature Eliminates Contractor Type 1 Indemnity

The California Legislature recently approved California Senate Bill 474, which provides that in private commercial or public works construction contracts, any indemnity obligations arising out of active negligence or willful misconduct of the indemnified party are void and unenforceable. These indemnity obligations were already prohibited in residential construction contracts (except for homeowners improving their single family dwelling).

Bi-partisan California State Senate Bill to Require Prevailing Wage

Senate Bill 7 seeks to close the loophole which has allowed California's 121 charter cities to remain exempt from California's prevailing wage regulations. The bill, largely viewed as a win for local contractors and the local labor force, has found opposition with municipalities' political representatives, who view the Bill as a further increase of the state's hold over the local government.

All state and local government agencies in California, with the exception of California's 121 charter cities, require contractors to pay prevailing wage, an hourly pay-and-benefits benchmark for workers, on taxpayer-funded projects. While most of the 121 charter cities also pay prevailing wage, some continue to use public funds to contract for projects without such a wage requirement.

CSLB Finds Millions in Unlicensed Construction Practices

The California Contractor State Licensing Board (CSLB) formed the Joint Enforcement Strike Force's (JESF) Construction Enforcement Project (CEP) to capitalize on multi-agency partnerships in a coordinated effort to enforce wage and licensure laws for contractors. The results have been staggering so far: 411 audit referrals for an estimated $48,553,626 in unreported wages; $25,832,017 in EDD and Franchise Tax Board outstanding tax and civil liability suspension amounts with $10,815,762 in penalties recovered; $17, 705, 752 in EDD tax and civil liability suspensions with $6,626, 208 in recovered tax liability; and additional license liability suspensions by the Department of Industrial Relations totaling $1,972,328 with $1,835,869 in penalties recovered.

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