California Increases Penalties Against Contractors Who Violate the Prevailing Wage Law

November 12, 2011

The State of California has modernized and increased penalties that may be assessed against contractors who violate wage and hour laws on public works.  The State has passed a new law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, increasing the penalties against contractors who violate California’s Prevailing Wage Law. 

Under existing law, contractors must pay specific

 wage rates set by the State of California, known as the prevailing wage, to workers on California public works projects.  The wage rates are published semi-annually by the California Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”). The wage rates are set for each trade or worker classification such as Carpenter, Iron Worker, Operator, Roofer, Sheet Metal Worker, Electrician, Inside Wireman, Laborer and Cement Mason. California prevailing wage rates may be found on the DIR’s website.

Under the old law, contractors who violate the prevailing wage law are subject to penalties up to $50 per calendar day, except in certain cases of a good faith mistake, as provided and determined by the Labor Commissioner. 

The new law increases that maximum penalty to $200 for each calendar day and increases the penalty assessed to contractors and subcontractors with prior violations.

A copy of the new statute is available here.

Additional information about employment law is available at

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