A framing contractor hired by 84 Lumber has been ordered to pay $1.3 million in wages and $200,000 in fines related to work on a housing project at the University of California-Davis, the office of California State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet announced.

"Our investigation uncovered serious wage violations in this case," Bradstreet said in a June 10 announcement. "We believe the employer intentionally underpaid its workers." A total of 74 employees were affected by Russell/Thompson's failure to pay prevailing wages, the statement said. It also said Russell/Thompson falsified records and "failed to pay overtime and misclassified workers by identifying them as lower paying positions rather than higher rate skilled positions that they worked."

The commisioner's Civil Wage and Penalty Assessment identifies Brown Construction Inc. as the prime contractor for the Tercero Student Housing project at UC-Davis. 84 is listed as the subcontractor, and Russell/Thompson Inc. was named as the second-tier subcontractor.

Officials for 84 did not respond by press time to requests for comment.

While the commisioner's announcement identifies Russell/Thompson as the company ordered to pay $1.5 million, Brown and 84 also could be hit financially. A spokesperson for the commisioner's office told ProSales that all three companies named--Brown, 84, and Russell/Thompson--must decide whether to appeal the assessment.

"Prime contractors cannot plead ignorance when their subcontractors fail to follow California's labor law," the labor commisioner's statement quoted John Duncan, director of the office's Department of Industrial Relations, as saying. And Bradstreet said: "I believe the action my office is taking against Russell/Thompson and 84 Lumber Inc. will serve as a deterrent to any company that is thinking about undermining its employees or the state's wage laws."