APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County. Thomas S. Garza, Judge. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. Nos. CIVVS702739, CIVVS702741, CIVVS702743, CIVVS702745, CIVVS702751 & CIVVS702753).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gaut J.
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
After certification by the appellate division of the superior court, this court ordered the present appeal, six individual cases which have been consolidated, transferred to it. (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 8.1002 and 8.1005.) The respondents are six laborers who worked for an unlicensed drywall subcontractor, Humberto Figueroa Drywall Company (Humberto). Donald Sanders, doing business as Sanders Construction Company (Sanders), was the general contractor. The issue is whether the employee of an unlicensed subcontractor may assert a wage claim against the general contactor.
The essential facts in this case are not disputed. Sanders was the general contractor on the construction of an Hesperia hotel. In June 2006, Sanders hired Humberto to install drywall for a contract price which included labor and materials. Between June and September, Sanders paid Humberto, who in turn was supposed to pay the workers.
Beginning in September 2006, the parties disagreed about the quality of the work and the payments made from Sanders to Humberto. After Sanders discovered that Humberto‟s license had expired before June 2006, Sanders continued to work with Humberto to complete the project. Because he was already paying Humberto, Sanders did not believe he was responsible for paying Humberto‟s workers.
Humberto stopped work on the project in January 2007. The workers all stopped in December 2006 or January 2007.
b. Labor Commission Hearing
The respondents filed their wage claims against Sanders with the state Labor Commissioner, seeking wages, interest, and waiting-time penalties. (§§ 98.1, 202, and 203.) In each instance, the hearing officer found that Humberto had told the claimants they would be paid by Sanders while Sanders considered Humberto responsible for paying the claimants.
The hearing officer cited the holding in Hunt Building Corp. v. Bernick (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 213, 220: "Labor Code section 2750.5 operates to conclusively determine that a general contractor is the employer of not only its unlicensed subcontractors but also those employed by the unlicensed subcontractors." The hearing officer decided Sanders was the statutory employer of the workers employed by Humberto, entitling them to wages and interest. (§ 98.1, subd. (c).) The hearing officer declined to award waiting-time penalties because he deemed there was a good-faith dispute about whether Sanders was the employer.
In a separate wage claim, the hearing officer also determined that Humberto had misrepresented himself as a licensed contractor. The hearing officer dismissed Humberto‟s wage claim on the grounds Humberto was an unlicensed contractor, who was acting as an independent contractor, and the Labor Commissioner ...