What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

I questioned whether to even write this post.

Because, of course, YOU would never find yourself hightailing it out of town  with the California Contractor’s State License Board (“CSLB”) sniffing down your tail pipes.

Then again, mistaken identities occur all the time. So, here’s what you need to know if the CSLB mistakes you for one of “those” contractors.

What violations are subject to CSLB enforcement actions?

The CSLB can take enforcement actions based on any one of numerous violations set forth under the California Business and Professions Code (“B&P Code”), including:

  1. B&P Code §7107: Abandonment of a construction project or operation without legal excuse.
  2. B&P Code §7108: Diversion or misapplication of funds or property received for prosecution or completion of a construction project or operation.
  3. B&P Code §7108.5: Failure to pay a subcontractor not later than 7 days after receipt of each progress payment, unless otherwise agreed to in writing or in the absence of a good faith dispute over the amount due.
  4. B&P Code §7108.6: Failure to pay transportation charged submitted by a dump truck carrier, unless otherwise agreed to in writing or in the absence of a good faith dispute over the charges claimed.
  5. B&P Code §7109: Willful departure from or disregard of accepted trade standards or plans and specifications.
  6. B&P Code §7109.5: Violation of a safety provision under the California Labor Code (Labor Code section 6300 et seq.) resulting in death or serious injury to an employee.
  7.  B&P Code §7110: Willful or deliberate disregard of building, safety, labor, workers compensation, unemployment, the Subletting and Subcontracting Fair Practices Act, or violation of the California Health and Safety Code or California Water Code relating to digging, boring, or drilling of water wells.
  8. B&P Code §7110.1: Requiring a release from an unpaid laborer in violation of the California Labor Code (Labor Code section 206.5).
  9. B&P Code §7110.5: Being found by the California Labor Commissioner to have willful or deliberately violated the Labor Code.
  10. B&P Code §7111: Failure to make and keep records showing all contracts, documents, records, receipts and disbursements for a period of 5 years after completion of a construction project or operation.
  11. B&P Code §7111.1: Failure or refusal to respond to a written request by the CSLB to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint against the licensee.
  12. B&P Code §§7112 and 7112.1: Omitting or misrepresenting a material fact when obtaining or renewing a license or adding a classification to an existing license.
  13. B&P Code §7113: Failing to complete a construction project or operation for the price stated in the contract or in any modification to the contract.
  14. B&P Code §7113.5: Avoiding or settling of an obligation for less than the full amount through: (a) composition, arrangement, or reorganization with creditors under state law; (b) composition, arrangement, or reorganization with creditors under any agreement or understanding; (c) receivership; (d) assignment for the benefit of creditors; (e) trusteeship; or (f) dissolution, unless discharged or settled in bankruptcy under federal law.
  15. B&P Code §7114: Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person with an intent to evade the License Law.
  16. B&P Code §7114.1: Signing a falsified certificate of experience or certifying false or misleading experience.
  17. B&P Code §7114.2: Displaying a canceled, revoked, suspended, or fraudulently altered license, using a fictitious license or document simulating a license, lending a license to another person, or knowingly permitting the unlawful use of a license.
  18. B&P Code §7115: Failure to comply with the License Law or engaging in collusion under California Public Contracts Code section 7106.
  19. B&P Code §7116: Willfully or fraudulently injuring another.
  20. B&P Code §7116.5: Engaging in conduct that subverts or attempts to subvert an investigation by the CSLB.
  21. B&P Code §7117: Acting in the capacity of a contractor under a license that is not his or hers or with personnel not identified under the license.
  22. B&P Code §7117.5: Acting in the capacity of a contractor under an inactive, suspended, or expired license.
  23. B&P Code §7117.6: Acting in the capacity of a contractor in a classification other than a classification currently held.
  24. B&P Code §7118: Entering into a contract with an unlicensed contractor.
  25. B&P Code §7118.4: Failure, by a contractor who has made an inspection to determine the presence of asbestos, to disclose orally and in writing that there is an ownership or financial relationship with a contractor performing corrective work.
  26. B&P Code §7118.5: Knowingly or negligently entering into a contract with a person who is not certified to engage in asbestos-related work.
  27. B&P Code §7118.6: Knowingly or negligently entering into a contract with a person who is not certified to engage in hazardous waste remediation.
  28. B&P Code §7119: Willful failure or refusal to to diligently prosecute a construction project or operation without legal excuse.
  29. B&P Code §7120: Willful or deliberate failure to pay money when due for materials or services rendered or false denial of any amount due or the validity of a claim with intent to secure a discount or delay.
  30. B&P Code §7121: Employing or associating as an officer, director, partner, manager, qualifier or one of the personnel of record of a licensee, a person whose license was previously denied, suspended, or revoked, or who had knowledge of or participate in acts of an organization which had its license previously denied, suspended, or revoked.
  31. B&P Code §7121.5: Employing or associating as an officer, director, partner, manager, or qualifier, a qualifier of an organization which has had its license revoked or suspended, regardless of whether he or she had knowledge of or participated in any acts of the  organization which led to its license being revoked or suspended.
  32. B&P Code §7123: Being convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a contractor.
  33. B&P Code §7123.5: Overpricing work following an emergency or major disaster.

What happens when a complaint is filed or enforcement action initiated against my license?

The CSLB may initiate enforcement action on its own. However, more typically, a complaint is filed against a license. The License Law states that “any person” may file a complaint against a license. Usually, however, a complaint is filed by an owner or another contractor, subcontractor, material supplier or employee.

Complaints based on patent defects must be filed within 4 years after the act or omission. Complaints based on latent defects must be filed within 10 years after the act or omission. And complaints based on misrepresentations of material facts, or based on criminal conduct, must be filed within 2 years of discovery.

When a complaint is filed it is processed at the CSLB Intake and Mediation Center nearest the location where the alleged violation occurred. If the complaint is found to fall within the CSLB’s jurisdiction the CSLB will send confirmation of receipt of the complaint to the complainant and a notice to the contractor.

  1. Notice of Possible Violation: The notice to the contractor will usually request information as to whether a settlement has been reached, whether a settlement was offered but not accepted, whether the contractor contends that no violation exists, or if there is further information the contractor would like to share with the CSLB.
  2. Investigation: If a complaint is not resolved, a CSLB consumer services representative (CSR) will contact the complainant and the contractor to request additional information and documentation and attempt to mediate the dispute. If the CSR determines that further investigation is necessary, he or she can assign the case to an enforcement representative (ER) who will conduct an investigation by requesting further information and documents, and conducting interviews, to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation of the License Law.
  3. CSLB-Sponsored Arbitration: In certain cases, the CSLB can refer the parties to the CSLB-sponsored arbitration program. The CSLB-sponsored arbitration program is only available if: (a) the dispute involves damages greater than $12,500 but less than $50,000; (b) the contractor has a license in good standing; (c) the contractor does not have a history of repeated or similar violations; (d)  the contractor does not currently have a disciplinary action pending against him or her; and (e) the parties have not previously agreed to arbitrate or are willing to waive a contractual agreement to arbitrate. The CSLB-sponsored arbitration program is voluntary, unless the damages are equal to or below $12,500, in which case arbitration can be mandated. If the  parties participate in the CSLB-sponsored arbitration the arbitrator’s decision is binding.
  4. CSLB Enforcement Action: Once an investigation is concluded the CSLB may take one or more of the following actions: (a) issue a warning letter; (b) issue a citation; (c) file an accusation; or (d) close the complaint because the parties’  settled, for lack of evidence, or because it found no violation. In rare instances, the CSLB may seek injunctive relief with the courts or refer the matter to a local prosecutor for the filing of criminal charges.

What is a warning letter?

If a violation is found but the contractor’s actions are not egregious and the contractor’s history does not reflect a patter of violations the CSLB may just send a warning letter to the contractor. A warning letter remains a matter of record and could support more serious action against a contractor if further violations occur.

What is a citation?

If a contractor is found to have violated the License Law, the CSLB may issue a citation imposing a civil penalty payable to the CSLB as well as an order of restitution requiring the contractor to either correct deficiencies and/or pay for the damages of the complainant. Civil penalties on a single construction project, no matter the number of violations, cannot exceed $5,000. However, if a contractor is found to have contracted with an unlicensed contractor or have aided and abetted an unlicensed contractor a civil penalty of up to $15,000 may be assessed.

A contractor may appeal a citation by giving notice to the CSLB within 15 days of service of the citation by the CSLB. If a contractor appeals the citation, a hearing is held before the Registrar of Contractors who may revoke, modify, or affirm a citation. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may also be conducted.

If a contractor does not appeal or fails to appeal a citation within 15 days of service of the citation by the CSLB, the citation becomes final. If a contractor fails to comply with a citation it will result in the automatic suspension of his or her license 30 days after noncompliance with the terms of the citation. A contractor may contest the determination of noncompliance by giving notice to the CSLB within 15 days of service of a notice of noncompliance by the CSLB. If a contractor continues to fail to comply with a citation it will result in the automatic revocation of his or her license 90 days after the date of automatic suspension.

What is an accusation?

The most serious violations are subject to the filing of an accusation. In an accusation, the CSLB seeks to suspend or revoke a contractor’s license, and begins with the CSLB filing an accusation which is similar to a complaint filed in superior court and includes an allegation of claims. A contractor has 15 days from service of an accusation by the CSLB to file a notice of defense.

The Administrative Procedures Act (Government Code sections 11500 et seq.) govern accusations, including limited discovery of names and addresses of witnesses, statements taken, investigative reports, and documents sought to be admitted as evidence. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may be conducted.

At the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) the burden is on the CSLB to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a contractor’s license should be suspended or revoked. The rules of evidence, however, are typically more relaxed. Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue a proposed decision.

The CSLB may adopt the proposed decision in whole or in part or may enter its own ruling. The CSLB can also request that additional evidence be heard. The decision of the ALJ becomes a final decision 30 days after service of proposed decision unless reconsideration is requested.

A contractor who is unhappy with a decision can seek judicial relief by filing a petition for peremptory writ of administrative mandamus in the superior court. The peremptory writ provisions of California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 govern writs and require the superior court to conduct an independent review of the record. The parties may also appeal the decision of the superior court to the court of appeal.

Contractors who lose an accusation may be required to pay the CSLB’s investigative and enforcement costs which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. A contractor whose license is suspended may be reinstated upon proof of the contractor’s compliance with the conditions of suspension or, in the absence of such conditions, the discretion of the CSLB. A contractor whose license is revoked may not reinstate their license for a minimum of one year or up to a maximum of five years. A contractor will also be required to file a disciplinary bond.

How does the CSLB address complaints against unlicensed contractors?

Unlicensed contractors, as opposed to licensed contractors, don’t have a license which can be suspended or revoked. When the CSLB receives a complaint against an unlicensed contractor the CSLB may issue a citation including an order of abatement to cease and desist and a civil penalty up to $15,000, file a criminal action with the local district attorney’s office, or initiate injunction proceedings in the superior court.

Unlicensed contractors have 15 days from service of an administrative citation by the CSLB to appeal a citation. If an unlicensed contractor appeals a citation, a hearing is held before the Registrar of Contractors who may revoke, modify, or affirm a citation. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may also be conducted.

view post: What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

 

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CSLB Ineptitude

The CSLB is showing their ineptitude yet again!

CSLB IneptitudeHere are the comments to a current application under their review:

12/26/2014 – application received
12/30/2014 – app to case mgmt for flag review
12/31/2014 – printed acknldgmnt lttr to applcnt
01/15/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
01/15/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
01/16/2015 – app sent to supervisor for review
01/23/2015 – app to case mgmt for flag review
02/04/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
02/04/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/05/2015 – application unposted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/06/2015 – app to aiu for investigation
02/06/2015 – enforcement

The AIU, which I thought no longer existed, requested the app to be posted on 2/4 (initially requested to be posted by the AIU on 1/5). It was posted on 2/5, then unposted, then posted again, then sent back to the AIU on 2/6?!?!

What the fence post is going on in that building? Is anybody in charge? Does anybody have a clue as to what they are doing?

I talk to people on a daily basis who are being forced to endure the ineptitude of this agency, and I feel horrible for each and every one of them. People’s livelihoods are one the line here. Feeding families, putting gas in the car to get the kids to school. And this type of ridiculous, make your head spin, cluster junk is just not acceptable.

I told this applicant… if I were you, I’d be filing a complaint with my State Representative asking them to contact this group of DCA idiots to find out what the heck is going on in that building.

What was the name of that movie where the guy throws the tv out of the window and shouts “I’m mad as hell and not going to take this anymore”?

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CSLB Application Processing in Action

CSLB application processing in actionHere is an example of the CSLB application processing in action.

04/21/2014 – APPLICATION RECEIVED
04/25/2014 – PRINTED ACKNLDGMNT LTTR TO APPLCNT
05/12/2014 – APP TO CASE MGMT FOR FLAG REVIEW
05/30/2014 – INSTRUCTIONS RETURNED FRM CASE MGMT
05/30/2014 – AIU REQUESTED APP TO BE POSTED
06/03/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
06/03/2014 – REJECT – CONFIRM LEGAL NAME
06/03/2014 – CRITICAL CLASS DUTIES NOT SPECIFIC
06/20/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
06/20/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
06/20/2014 – ADD’L REJECT TO APPLICNT TO CORRECT
07/24/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
07/24/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
07/24/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
07/24/2014 – NEED TRADE WORK DESCRIBED
07/25/2014 – APPLICATION POSTED
07/25/2014 – REFERRED TO EXAM SCHEDULING – BOTH
07/28/2014 – NOTICE TO APPEAR FOR EXM 08/18/2014
08/18/2014 – EXAM SCHEDULED FOR BOTH LAW & TRADE
08/18/2014 – PASSED BOTH LAW AND TRADE EXAM
09/18/2014 – APP SENT TO SUPERVISOR FOR REVIEW
09/18/2014 – APPLICATION RETURNED TO PROGRM TECH
09/23/2014 – APP TO AIU FOR INVESTIGATION

Rejected not once, not twice, but three times. Then, after providing the corrections requested and passing both exams, they sent this app to the AIU. Which, from what the CSLB has said, no longer exists.

Government, by definition, is a cluster…. But the CSLB has taken ineptitude to a whole new level.

Let’s break it down:

5/12 the app is sent to Case Management. Probably because the applicants name is the same or similar to someone else’s. There is 2+ weeks wasted.

5/30 AIU requests the app to be posted. Wait… AIU? I thought the app was in Case Management? One would think the app was good to go since the AIU said it could be posted. (Posted means accepted and that the applicant can proceed to testing)

6/3 Rejected for correction. On 5/30 the AIU said it could be posted. Now it’s being rejected for correction?

6/20 Corrections received and sent to be scanned… AND rejected again! My assumption here is that they didn’t get back what they requested, or they are playing with the applicant in the hopes that he’ll withdraw the app.

7/24 Corrections received, sent to be scanned… AND rejected again!! “Need Trade Work Description” Was this not included in the original reject? Did the applicant not provide this with the original reject? Or is the CSLB just rejecting it again because they didn’t bother to include it in the original rejection?

7/25 App posted and exam date scheduled. This would suggest that everything the applicant submitted was accepted. That is how any logical person would view this comment.

8/18 Exams passed. Bonding and insurance purchased, business cards ordered, ready to move forward… but wait…

9/18 One month later.. the app is sent to the supervisor for review. Review of what? The supervisor sends it back to the tech with instructions to send the app to AIU. Again, I thought the AIU was no longer?

9/23 5 days later the app is sent to the AIU, where the investigator will ask for all of the same documents the tech would have asked for months ago and 5 months after the app was submitted.

So there you have it. The utterly inept CSLB application processing in action.

Will this applicant get his license? I hope so! He proved his knowledge by passing the State mandated, CSLB created exams.

 

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Email from a License Guru Blog Reader

Below is an email from a License Guru Blog reader describing her CSLB experience review nightmare.

CSLB Red Tape“I have been following the license guru blog for about 7 months now which is just 3 months short of the full year my husband has been getting the run around from the investigator assigned to his file.  On 06/13/13 the application was submitted and from there everything that you could possibly imagine in your worst nightmare happened.  The investigator began with requests for additional documentation to support the work experience forms that were submitted by two previous employers.  So the dog and pony show began.

We would get the documents and then submit them  only to find out that she needed one more thing…something she did not request the first go around,  and on and on this went on with the two employers, her, us and then she asked for more 1099’s which led to more people being sent forms for work experience, permits, pretty much everything but them signing in blood.  Even with certified mail it seemed she just did not have all the items to find the 4 years of experience she needed.  Or her other excuse was she could not contact the people….which is totally a lie since each and every person never received phone calls from her and we checked with them and found that she had not left messages or attempted.  Finally it was to the point that she made it her mission to deny this application.  Literally a day before his test date she said you might as well just not take it since you will not be approved for your work experience anyway.  It was amazing the total inexperience and lack of support.  Something that we felt needed to be brought the attention of her supervisors.  So, we called a meeting and did just that.  We went with the full binder of documentation with all supporting documents on a job by job basis from each previous employer and we also asked for each employer prior to that day if they would mind being called on our meeting day if necessary to speak with CSLB or answer any questions.  All agreed and were on stand by.  Also realize we ended up pulling 1099’s over 12 year period…and had letters written to explain what each job entailed along with building permits and copies of receipts.  I mean we were prepared!  When we got into the meeting we sat down with the investigator and two supervisors.  She said, “So what are we hear for today?”  Of course I wanted to say are you freaking kidding me?  But I let my husband start and so he said Basically we are confused why this is taking so long to verify my work experience.  All of this information is so detailed and we have letters, permits, 1099’s, W2’s, and even have pictures (even thought she said they were not acceptable) we brought them to show the quality work he has done.  She said, “Well i have only been able to verify 14 months and there is just not all the pieces to support the rest.  So that is when I said, I have prepared this binder with all the documents that have been sent to you.  But it has been organized in a way to show each job, timeframes, support, pictures, etc.  So, I handed it to the Supervisors and they started to view and started to ask the investigator what she could not verify.  She flipped through her mess of folders, which was all scribble and unorganized and when I said what is missing with employer #1, as she looked for that persons name she said oh I don’t see that one.  Hmmm was that one returned to me?  And so the meeting rolled on with much more of this same thing…her fumbling, us proving, Supervisors eyebrows raising, questions  about why this had not proceeded, etc…finally the last straw was when she called out one employer as not being able to specify that my husband did structural work for them.  She literally put words into the employers mouth and how we know that is what transpired next.  A phone call was made per the request of her supervisors to call the employer in question (one that would support 3 years of experience) the employer got on the phone and the investigator started the manipulation right in front of us.  She said remember when i asked you about what “my husband” did for you?  I asked if he did structural work and you said that he did sheetrock and remodels.  The employer said yes that is true, so the investigator said so he did not do any structural work on the jobs he did for you.  The employer said well wait a minute i guess the way it was asked of me made me think of it as new construction work, so no our work has not been brand new construction…but the work he has done is basically taking everything on old construction down to wood and foundation and rebuilding with new electrical, plumbing and framing, pretty much the works.  Plus he has supervised a crew to do so…so yes if that means structural then absolutely.  Well, bingo it was pretty much a given that the original conversation with no one to witness was most definately manipulated.  After the phone call, I just stated that I did not feel as if the investigator really understood her job, and that she was not in any way helpful.  The Supervisor asked if I could leave the binder.  I said I was uncomfortable with that since it was clear that the investigator had obviously lost documents previously sent via certified mail and that I would prefer they make another copy of all the documents that she should already all have at the meeting today.

So they sent her to make some copies.  Meanwhile they agreed that there was plenty of documentation and that we would not need to go to the hearing….it would be moved on from the investigator to the next step.  Upon her arrival back into the room one of the Supervisors was clearly irritated with her and said they were hiring for investigator positions and wondered if I was interested in applying!  He went on to say he was very impressed by the documentation binder that was presented by us and our presentation of it.  The investigator gave out a loud scowl and stormed out of the room.  Well I guess she does not like me!

Anyway,  we are still waiting for the final paperwork to come back…we have called and CSLB says it is in final stage and paperwork should be coming to tell us about securing the bond so that the license number can be issued.  That was 2 weeks ago!  I can’t believe this and I also realize now that majority of people that have this happen would just give up.  It has been a fight and something I would not wish on my worst enemy.

Any recommendations on what to do now?  When you check his application number online it just says application denied, do not schedule exam, but that has been that way since right after his exam was scheduled and he passed!  Amazing, what to do?  I feel like this is borderline unethical, and borderline against the law!  In addition there have been 3 major jobs that have come and gone that my husband could have bid on had he been licensed.  Possible loss of income not to mention the hours spent on phone, document preparation, mail and on and on.

Very tired and very frustrated.”

I want to thank this reader for sharing her CSLB experience with us. She has shown that the CSLB does not know how to handle people who are prepared and willing to stand up to them. As of this posting, the app is still in limbo. My guess is, the CSLB is trying to resolve this without making themselves look any worse than they already do.

If you find yourself in this situation…. put together a neatly prepared, organized binder and request a meeting with the CSLB. And remember…. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, including phone calls!! Always ask the CSLB to put their requests in writing! This is vital!

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CSLB Investigation Opinion

I received an email via my contact form on my website. I don’t know what prompted this person to send me this, other than to give their opinion about the CSLB investigators.

Here’s their comment, untouched and not modified. cslb investigation opinion

“with and in fact most likely shoved into someone elses pile of folders. Make sure to cover yourself with confirmations of documents received. Make sure to double check with the people that filled out work experience forms on your behalf to see if they received phone calls or further documentation to fill out…because investigators will say they left messages but never was able to verify with previous employers. It’s part of the game, job security for them. Request to speak with a supervisor when you get nowhere with an investigator. Get a face to face meeting and bring a binder with each job tabbed showing, length of time, 1099 or W2 to back it up, permits (if applicable), work experience form filled out by the verifier, and a letter from the verifier stating specific duties you performed in relation to the classification you are going to be licensed for. Cross your T’s and dot your I’s and document everything, organize it and state your case. Do it sooner rather than later because they will give you no more than 30 days to do so, and when they extend it to 60 make sure you request a legal hearing to protect yourself, or you will have to start all over again! Don’t take the investigators word that they are still reviewing because they are not, you must be pro-active and get that face to face meeting with the supervisor. This is the only way that CSLB will start realizing that most of the investigators are really not even doing their job and most likely don’t have a clue on how to do it! I was shocked at the lack of organization and mess of notes and scribble the investigator showed me…they should be ashamed of such a poor representation of their investigative department.”

Do you have a CSLB Investigation Opinion that you’d like to share. Please, feel free to email me. I will keep your name anonymous.

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Contractors State License Board Exams

Email exchange I had with Betsy Figueira on 3/28/2014 regarding the Contractors State License Board exams.

Basically, I wanted to know how and why the CSLB is allowing applicants to take the CSLB exams when they are sending the applications to the investigation unit. The conversation went as follows:

Update at the bottom. 4/4/14

License Guru: Can you provide me with the rule, regulation, or law that gives the CSLB the authority to allow an applicant to take the exams, but still send their application to enforcement for investigation?

Ms. Figueira: Hello Phil,

California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 825 (a) requires the qualifier to have 4 years of journey-level work experience within the last 10 years in the relevant classification.

Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section 7065, CCR Section 825 (e), and CCR Section 840 require the qualifier is to take the examination.

CCR Section 824 requires a comprehensive field audit of a minimum of 3% of the applications.

There is nothing in the law that specifically dictates the order in which the exam must be taken and the experience must be verified.  As a service to the applicant, CSLB allows the consecutive processing of the examination and the experience investigation in order to save time, as opposed to making the applicant wait until his/her experience has been verified before taking the examination, which can take months.

Passed examinations remain valid for 5 years after the exam date, as provided in BPC Section 7065 (d).  Therefore, even if an applicant’s experience is not verified under a particular application, the applicant may be able to make use of that passed exam to qualify for licensure on a subsequent application when he/she is able to sufficiently document his/her work experience.

Thanks,

Betsy Figueira
CSLB, Licensing Division Manager
916-255-3369

License Guru: Thank you for the reply.

So I understand this correctly… since the law does not “specifically” dictate the order in which the exam must be taken, a CSLB staff member has decided to allow applicants to take the exams, even though their application hasn’t been accepted and/or approved. I know the CSLB has different definitions for “accepted” and “approved” and uses either word when it best fits the situation.

The CSLB website states the following:
http://www.cslb.ca.gov/applicants/ContractorsLicense/ExamApplication/ApplicationAccepted.asp

What can I expect when my exam application has been accepted?

This step will outline some of the procedures you can expect when your exam application is accepted.

  • You will receive a Fingerprinting Live Scan packet (see step 6 for further information.)
  • You will receive a Notice to Appear for Examination. You should receive your examination notice at least three weeks prior to the examination date.

The above statement on the website is misleading and does not fall in line with your statement.

I’ve talked to many applicants who are confused as to why they’re being allowed to take the exams when their application is being sent to investigation. At the very least, the CSLB is sending mixed messages.

From what I have been told, most applicants find it more stressful to take the exams not knowing if their application is going to be processed/accepted/approved etc., or not. So from my experience, you are not doing them any favors.

Then there is this page on the website. Note the last line of the third bullet point.

http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Applicants/ContractorsLicense/NoExamApplication/ApplyingForLicense.asp

Under what circumstances am I not required to take the examination?

You are not required to take the examination if the qualifying individual meets one of the following requirements:

  • You are currently a qualifier on a license in good standing in the same classification(s) for which you are applying;
  • You have been a qualifier within the past five years in the same classification(s) for which you are applying;
  • Within the last five years, you have passed both the Law and Business Examination and the trade examination in the same classification for which you are applying, and the license for which you took the examinations was not denied due to lack of work experience.

I have research the B&P Code and the CCR and can not find any rule, regulation, or law that gives the CSLB the authority to have an applicant re-take exams that he/she has passed within the prior five years because of a prior denied application. This statement on the website also differs from your statement regarding 7065.

Applicants are being put through the wringer when it comes to providing paper documentation when the law clearly states that the “registrar shall investigate, classify, and qualify applicants for contractors’ licenses by written examination.” 7065 (a)

Regarding Section 824. It does not specifically dictate the creation of a list of “critical classifications.” Therefore, those applying for one of the “critical classifications” should not be considered part of the 3% minimum. Those applicants are being required to provide additional documentation based solely on the classification they are applying for. Therefore, Section 824 does not apply.

At the very least, the CSLB should be putting out a consistent message that follows the law as written, not as interpreted by CSLB staff.

Thank you again.

End

I haven’t received a response to my reply, but it was yesterday (Friday) so I may or may not hear back from her until next week… if at all. It seems that whenever I ask for information regarding their licensing processes, they always give me Section 824, 825, 840 and 7065. None of which actually give them the authority to do what their doing if they followed the letter of the law.

The bottom line is… the Contractors State License Board Exam unit does whatever they want and they always seem to manipulate the law to fit their needs or to justify their whims.

Update: 4/4/14

Below is a portion of a reject letter that was sent in March. You will notice the last paragraph states the following:

Inline image 1

If this is true, then why are these applicants being sent to investigation? The fact that they are being sent to the exams suggests that licensing has verified the minimum experience required.

Continue reading the discussion at Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2.

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CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process

Let’s take a minute to discuss CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process.

application denialIt’s a boring subject I know, but it’s good information to have if you find yourself stuck in the AIU vortex.

If your application is denied by the Application Investigation Unit, Section 485 kicks in.

§ 485. Procedure upon denial

Upon denial of an application for a license under this chapter or Section 496, the board shall do either of the following:

  • (a) File and serve a statement of issues in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
  • (b) Notify the applicant that the application is denied, stating (1) the reason for the denial, and (2) that the applicant has the right to a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code if written request for hearing is made within 60 days after service of the notice of denial. Unless written request for hearing is made within the 60-day period, the applicant’s right to a hearing is deemed waived. Service of the notice of denial may be made in the manner authorized for service of summons in civil actions, or by registered mail addressed to the applicant at the latest address filed by the applicant in writing with the board in his or her application or otherwise. Service by mail is complete on the date of mailing.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1997 ch 758 §

The key here is that 60 day deadline to file your appeal request. I would suggest filing your appeal as soon as possible to get the appeal process started.

From here Section 487 applies and it outlines the Hearing process.

§ 487. Hearing; Time

If a hearing is requested by the applicant, the board shall conduct such hearing within 90 days from the date the hearing is requested unless the applicant shall request or agree in writing to a postponement or continuance of the hearing. Notwithstanding the above, the Office of Administrative Hearings may order, or on a showing of good cause, grant a request for, up to 45 additional days within which to conduct a hearing, except in cases involving alleged examination or licensing fraud, in which cases the period may be up to 180 days. In no case shall more than two such orders be made or requests be granted.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1974 ch 1321 § 10; Stats 1986 ch 220 § 1, effective June 30, 1986.

The important part in this section is that the hearing shall be conducted within 90 days of the hearing being requested. Unless you, the applicant, request or agree to a continuance. I wouldn’t agree to a continuance because I wouldn’t want to give the board the ability to delay the process any further. If the OAH grants a request for extension, you’re stuck with it. The CSLB likes to say that the process can take 4-6 months, but I think this is a scare tactic. Section 487 suggests that a hearing could take place in as little as 3 months.

After a hearing request is submitted, Section 488 comes in to play.

§ 488. Hearing request

Except as otherwise provided by law, following a hearing requested by an applicant pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 485, the board may take any of the following actions:

  • (a) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant.
  • (b) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant, immediately revoke the license, stay the revocation, and impose probationary conditions on the license, which may include suspension.
  • (c) Deny the license.
  • (d) Take other action in relation to denying or granting the license as the board in its discretion may deem proper.

Added Stats 2000 ch 568 § 2 (AB 2888).

This one is interesting because of item (c). This suggests that the CSLB could deny the license… again. What’s curious is that it was a denial that led you down the appeal/hearing path in the first place.

So there you have it, some interesting facts about CSLB application denials and the appeals process.

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CSLB AIU Vortex

The CSLB AIU Vortex continues to spin. And it’s not a pretty sight!

I received an email from one of my readers today and wanted to share it with you. Our conversation went as follows.

cslb aiu vortexMy fiancé has been undergoing the investigation process with the AIU and it’s looking as though they are going to deny his application. His prior employer has cooperated fully with the investigator but they seem to only want w-2s, paycheck stubs, and so forth. I was wondering if you had any knowledge or experience with the appeal process. How long does it take and so forth? Also, can you recommend any lawyers that have experience with this process? If we plan to go that route.

I replied:

Yes, the joys of dealing with the CSLB and the AIU. Did they allow you to submit any other forms of experience verification?

In the last year, I haven’t heard of anyone going thru the appeal process. The CSLB says it can take 4-6 months. I don’t have a referral at the ready, but I can ask my contacts if they have an atty referral for the appeal process.

She replied:

Yes, they gave their basic cookie cutter letter stating that we could send in invoices and estimates and materials receipts and so forth. Once we sent that paperwork in, they contacted my fiancé’s prior employer and sent him a paper to fill out verifying work experience and pay. After all that, the investigator said that the information was not enough and that he needed verifiable documents such as w-2’s, pay check stubs, and time cards. I have reviewed the CSLB’s website and found proof that if the employer verifies then that should be enough but I’m not sure if they are just forcing these investigators only to ask for w-2’s. If it turns out that the application does get denied, we are definitely thinking of appealing. It has been a long process and it seems pointless to give up now. [Read more…]

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CSLB Application Processing Part 2

Here we are again, CSLB application processing part 2, where I received a screen shot of an application timeline.

This poor guy is being bounced around like a golf ball in a blender. You can see in the image below that the application was submitted on 4/30/13. After being sent to the case management unit for a flag that was cleared on 7/17, almost three months later, the app was then sent to a licensing supervisor on 8/1. I’m assuming this was either a classification clarification or experience related. On 8/5 the supervisor returned the application to the technician with instructions to reject the app to the applicant for a correction. Then on 9/18, the application was sent back to the licensing supervisor for review again. I’m assuming to review the classification clarification or experience outline. The application was also sent to a “License Deputy” for review. Again, I’m assuming it’s for experience. On 10/1 the app is returned to the application technician with instructions to post the app and schedule him for the exams.

You would think that should be the end of it. It’s been to a supervisor twice and to a “licensing deputy.” But no… the app is referred to the Application Investigation Unit or AIU on the same day they schedule the exams. This is the part that really fries my shorts. Why do they insist on scheduling applicants for the exams AND send them to the AIU to verify their experience? If they are not qualified for the exams, and they require the applicant to prove his experience with the AIU, why send them to exams in the first place?

Moving on, the application is “out for investigation” on 10/7, but an “investigator” in the AIU will take at least a month before he/she contacts the applicant. On 10/22 the applicant passes both the law and business and trade exams.

Here we are, it’s January 15th, and the application is still “out for investigation.” Full disclosure… the applicant hasn’t told me yet what communication he’s had with the investigator, if any. So it could be that he’s submitted documents to be reviewed and is waiting for a determination to be made. Or, he may still be waiting to hear from the investigator.

Bottom line… anybody could look at the process this application has gone through and wonder if the Contractors State License Board is truly inept or just dysfunctional. Why did a “licensing deputy” review and apparently approve the application and then sent it to enforcement? Does the “licensing deputy” have the necessary training and experience to adequately review an application? The timeline below suggests, No.

If you find yourself in this situation, contact your State Assembly Member’s office and file a complaint with them. You can also file a complaint directly with the CSLB. Click on this link to download the pdf. CSLBClientServicesComplaintAndSuggestionForm I know that is kind of like asking the fox to look over the hen house, but at least the Registrar’s office is aware of what’s going on under his nose.

CSLB Application Processing Part 2

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CSLB Application Processing

Has the CSLB Application Processing system completely run afoul?

I apologize if I spend too much time discussing this topic, but it really fries my shorts when State agencies abuse their power.

I received an email from an applicant who applied to add a classification to his existing license. You will see in the image below that the CSLB Licensing Unit requested additional documentation. The applicant submitted the documentation, it was accepted, the application was posted and he passed the trade exam. Six days after passing the exam, his application was sent to the infamous Application Investigation Unit, or AIU. Why??

The AIU is going to ask for the same documentation. Doesn’t this suggest that the Licensing Unit is incompetent? They chose to take on the role of experience verification experts. Are they incompetent? Do they not feel that they can perform these duties sufficiently and accurately? They did send the application to the investigation unit after they approved his experience documents, so that suggests the answer is No.

Being a Navy vet, I’m used to following set rules and guidelines. The CSLB needs to create a set of (reasonable) rules and guidelines and follow them. Making up the rules as they go along is wrong for any business, but for a State agency to do it is just flat unacceptable!

CSLB Application Processing

 

 

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