Workers Compensation Laws Changed

Contractors License Workers Compensation Laws ChangedWorkers Compensation laws changed earlier this year, thanks to AB 2883.

And here’s how it’s affecting California contractors and applicants.

This new law, as stated in-part below, requires that corporations carry workers comp if they have officers that own less than 15% ownership in the company.

How does this affect contractors and license applicants?

If you’re a current corporate contractors license holder and you have officers who are listed on the contractors license but not on the corporate record with the Secretary of State (SOS), you should be carrying workers comp for those officers who are not listed on the SOS record.  Or you would need to add those officers to the SOS record*.

If you’re applying for a corporate contractors license for the first time (or changing from a sole owner to a corporation) and are using someone other than yourself as your RMO qualifier, that person must also be listed on your corporate record with the SOS.

Sound simple enough?  Maybe not.  What if the positions of President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Director (PSTD) have all been filled by other personnel besides the RMO qualifier?  Then what?  The SOS only wants to see the names of those individuals, PSTD.  You can always add another Director to the list.  But what if you don’t want your RMO to be on the Board of Directors?  Then what?  Exactly! Then what?!?!  Phone a friend?  Buy a vowel?  Take your ball and go home?

I reached out to the Contractors State License Board to get their input.  Their reply was “The Contractor’s State License Law provides that a licensee must file a certificate of workers’ compensation if they employ anyone who would be subject to the workers’ compensation laws of a California, or they may file a Certificate of Exemption from those laws if they don’t.”  But I know they are not requiring applicants to prove that officers listed on the application have at least 15% ownership.  So the CSLB doesn’t care about workers compensation laws??  It’s very black and white with them… if the license has an RME.. it needs works comp.  That’s it.  Nothing about the other officers listed on the application and how much of the company they own.

Here’s a scenario…

A corporate license application has an RMO qualifier who states he owns 30% of the company and his title is VP.  Additional officers include the President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.   When the CSLB processes the app, they’re only looking to see if the named President on the app matches the named President on the SOS record.  So, let’s say they match.  The CSLB is then not asking for proof of ownership levels of the other two officers!  Now let’s say that those other two officers, who may or may not be listed on the corporation with the SOS, each own only 10% of the company.  What then?  Well, according to AB 2883, they are in violation of the law for not carrying workers comp!

To go a step further…

Let’s say this corporation attempts to buy a workers compensation policy.  The Pres/CEO will have to sign a waiver form for his officers stating that they each own at least 15% of the company… including the RMO.  But wait, he already owns 30%!  Yes, but if you look at the CSLB website, it only states that the RMO owns “at least 10%”!  State Fund, the workers comp underwriter, doesn’t know that the RMO owns 30% because the CSLB says he only owns at least 10%.  Government working together at its best!

*What if those other officers (Sect./Tres) only own 5% each, and the Pres/CEO and/or Board of Directors is not willing to increase their ownership to 15% EACH?!  Then State Fund will rate their salaries based on the type of construction services the license provides…. increasing your workers comp rates exponentially!

Bottom line…. your workers comp rates will not be through the roof… they’ll be through the stratosphere!

This is nothing but a money-making scheme produced by over paid legislators.  It’s just one more thing to drive businesses out of California!!

AB 2883 States, in part:
Existing law defines an employee, for purposes of the laws governing workers’ compensation, to include, among other persons, officers and members of boards of directors of quasi-public or private corporations while rendering actual service for the corporations for pay. Existing law excludes from that definition, among other persons, officers and directors of a private corporation who are the sole shareholders of the corporation and working members of a partnership or limited liability company, as specified, unless they elect to come under the compensation provisions of the laws governing workers’ compensation.
This bill would revise those exceptions from the definition of an employee to apply to an officer or member of the board of directors, as specified, if he or she owns at least 15% of the issued and outstanding stock of the corporation, or an individual who is a general partner of a partnership or a managing member of a limited liability company, and that person elects to be excluded by executing a written waiver of his or her rights under the laws governing workers’ compensation, stating under penalty of perjury that he or she is a qualifying officer or director, or a qualifying general partner or managing member, as applicable. The bill would specify the effective date of the waivers.

 

 

 

 

CSLB Fees will Increase

Effective July 1, 2017, CSLB fees will increase.

CSLB 2017 Fee Increase

 

 

It’s gonna get a little bit more expensive to obtain, maintain, and change/update a contractors license!

 

Application and Licensing FeesCurrentFee as of July 1, 2017
Fee
1.      Original Application$300$330
(for those taking exam or requesting waiver for one classification)
2.      Additional Classification (each) (with waiver or joint venture application for original license)$75$75 (unchanged)
3.      Initial License (good for two years)$180$200
4.      Re-Examination$60$60 (unchanged)
5.      Additional Classification Application (for an existing license)$75$150
6.      Replacing the Qualifying Individual Application (for an existing license)$75$150
7.      License Reactivation Application$360$400
(for licenses expired for more than five years)
8.      Joint Venture Application$480$530
(total fee for one classification – application fee plus initial license fee)
(see #2 above for additional classification fee)
9.      Add New Personnel Application$100
(for existing corporate or limited liability company licenses – not including the qualifying individual; see above for replacing the qualifier)
10.   Add New Limited Partner Application$100
(for existing partnership license)
11.   Home Improvement Salesperson Registration Application$75$83
12.   Fingerprinting Fees – Paid to Live Scan Operator$49$49 (unchanged)
Dept. of Justice (DOJ) Processing Fee($32 DOJ &
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Processing Fee$17 FBI)
13.   Live Scan “Rolling Fees”VariesVaries
(each Live Scan site sets its own fee)
14.   Asbestos Certification Application$75$83
15.   Hazardous Substance Removal Certification Application$75$83
License and Registration Renewal FeesFor Licenses/For Licenses/
Registrations that expire on or before June 30, 2017Registrations that expire on or after 1 Jul 17
$360$400
16.   Active Timely Renewal (postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB on or before the expiration date)
17.   Active Delinquent Renewal$540$600
(postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB after the expiration date)
(renewal fee + penalty)
18.   Inactive Timely Renewal$180$200
(postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB on or before the expiration date)
19.   Inactive Delinquent Renewal$270$300
(postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB  after the expiration date)
(renewal fee + penalty)
20.   Home Improvement Salesperson Timely Renewal$75$83
(postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB on or before the expiration date)
21.   Home Improvement Salesperson Delinquent Renewal$100$124.50
(postmarked or hand delivered to CSLB after the expiration date)
(renewal fee + penalty)

CSLB Changing the Rules

CSLB Changing the RulesThe CSLB is changing the rules again!

I spoke to an applicant today who’s application was voided by the CSLB.

After months of back and forth with the Contractors State License Board where they continued to ask for more and more documentation, they voided his application without offering the “options” letter. The “options” letter is something they’ve sent to countless other applicants. The letter gives the applicant the option of withdrawing the app, using someone else as a qualifier, or sending the app to a formal investigation. As you’ll see below, this applicant to not get the “options” letter. My question is why???

Did they change the rules again? And without any notification to anyone?

This particular applicant has an over abundance of experience, plus a college degree that should have given him at least up to two years of experience credit. With his experience and the overwhelming experience documentation he provided that covered more than 10 years (when only two years was required), why did they void his app?

Granted, there were some issues with the experience outline on the application (something I could have helped him avoid with my app review service), but the fact remains that he was not given the “options” letter. I firmly believe that if he’d been given the option of having a formal investigation he could have dealt with an investigator that actually has some construction experience… unlike those who work in the application unit of the CSLB who have none. The same people who were reviewing his application and made the determination to void his app.

We all know that the federal and state governments play by their own rules, but why can’t there be some consistency? How can anyone play the game when the rules are constantly changing?

Another issue I have with this particular application is that they granted an extended void date on January 8th. Did they grant a 30 days extension as is standard? No. If they had, the app would have been voided on February 8th. But they voided the app on January 26th! What the %*&# is going on here!!!

I gave the applicant some options, all of which we will pursue… bottom line… This kind of government abuse is unacceptable, and we as a society have to stand up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

Application is void

  • 08/24/2015 – APPLICATION RECEIVED
  • 08/31/2015 – PRINTED ACKNLDGMNT LTTR TO APPLCNT
  • 09/10/2015 – APPLICATION RETURNED FOR CORRECTION
  • 09/10/2015 – WORK EXPERIENCE BLANK/PROBLEM
  • 09/10/2015 – CRITICAL CLASS DUTIES NOT SPECIFIC
  • 09/10/2015 – CERTIFIER RELATIONSHIP DISCREPANCY
  • 09/10/2015 – SPEC PROJ – EXPERIENCE VERIFICATION
  • 09/10/2015 – ADD’L SELF EMPLOYMNT INFO REQUESTED
  • 10/16/2015 – RETURNED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
  • 10/23/2015 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
  • 10/23/2015 – APPLICATION RETURNED FOR CORRECTION
  • 10/23/2015 – WORK EXPERIENCE BLANK/PROBLEM
  • 10/23/2015 – CERT DUTIES STILL NOT ACCEPTABLE
  • 10/23/2015 – SPEC PROJ – EXPERIENCE VERIFICATION
  • 10/23/2015 – ADD’L SELF EMPLOYMNT INFO REQUESTED
  • 12/09/2015 – RETURNED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
  • 12/24/2015 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
  • 12/24/2015 – APPLICATION RETURNED FOR CORRECTION
  • 12/24/2015 – WORK EXPERIENCE BLANK/PROBLEM
  • 12/24/2015 – CERT INCOMPLETE
  • 12/24/2015 – CRITICAL CLASS DUTIES NOT SPECIFIC
  • 12/24/2015 – EMAILED CERTS FOR ADDL CORRECTION.
  • 01/08/2016 – EXTENDED VOID DATE
  • 01/08/2016 – RETURNED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
  • 01/08/2016 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
  • 01/13/2016 – APP SENT TO SUPERVISOR FOR REVIEW
  • 01/25/2016 – ROUTED TO EXP ANALYST FOR REVIEW
  • 01/26/2016 – APPLICATION RETURNED TO PROGRM TECH
  • 01/26/2016 – DOCS INSUFF – EXPER NOT VERIFIED
  • 01/26/2016 – APP VOID – APP NOT PROCESSED
  • 01/26/2016 – APPLICATION IS VOID
  • 01/26/2016 – VOID LETTER SENT

Don’t put yourself in this position where you’re dealing with the CSLB changing the rules on you! Let me help you!!

Contractor RMOs for Hire

The CSLB released their Winter 2015-16 newsletter last week. One article discussed contractor RMOs for hire.CSLB Gestapo Tactics

Section 7068.1 of the Business and Professions code states: …”responsible for exercising that direct supervision and control of his or her employer’s or principal’s construction operations to secure compliance with this chapter and the rules and regulations of the board.” And Code 823(b) states: “For purposes of Section 7068.1 of the Code, “direct supervision and control” includes any one or any combination of the following activities: supervising construction, managing construction activities by making technical and administrative decisions, checking jobs for proper workmanship, or direct supervision on construction job sites.”

823 states “any one or any combination,” so if you are using an RMO that is not directly related to your business you need to ensure that he/she is following these guidelines.

I talk to people almost daily who need to use an RMO who is not directly related to their business. I tell them that the RMO must be involved in the construction activities that will be conducted under the license and the same rules and responsibilities apply as they do to the license they currently hold.

What I think is at issue here is the broad definition of “direct supervision and control.” Does the RMO need to be on the job site to manage or make technical and admin decisions? Not according to the law. Remember, it states “any one or any combination” is allowed, that suggests “direct supervision on construction job sites” does not have to be a mandatory choice.

With this ambiguity I’m left wondering what the CSLB gestapo task force is finding during their “investigations”, what are they citing these contractors with, and what are the criminal cases truly about?

I’m sure any attorney worth his hourly fee would be able to punch holes in any CSLB case that involved 7068.1 and 823. So if you are using an RMO or you are an RMO and you do not have a direct relationship with the business, I suggest you become as active as possible with the work being done. Log all phone calls, keep all emails, review contracts and sign them if possible, review photographs, and yes… even drop by the job site if you can (even though the law cited by the CSLB does not require it).

Last comment…. if this is such a big problem that the CSLB had to create a “task force”, why don’t they just amend or remove B&P Code 7068.1? Get rid of the 20% rule altogether? Or is it easier to create an unregulated task force, pry into the business activities of licensee’s, write citations and criminal cases, and collect 100’s of thousands of dollars? Well…. they even say it themselves… “yielded big dividends”!

Full CSLB article below

RMOs-for-Hire Better Know What They’re Getting Into

CSLB has zeroed in on licensees who rent their services as Responsible Managing Officers (RMOs) for companies over which they have little or no control. Due to the work of a special CSLB task force that targets suspected RMO abuses, those who act as little more than paid license qualifier for companies are being identified and disciplined for violating state contractor law.

Contractors who serve as qualifiers for a company’s construction operations must exercise direct control and supervision, and, by law, maintain at least a 20 percent ownership stake in each firm for which the person acts as a qualifier. Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 7068.1 authorizes CSLB to discipline the licensed entity when the qualifier is not actively involved in the construction activities of the license they are representing. In addition to administrative penalties, the individual falsely serving as a qualifier on the license can be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail, and required to pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

CSLB’s effort to uncover straw men RMOs has yielded big dividends. There have been a total of 304 complaints filed against those suspected of misusing their qualifier status (many still under investigation), 31 accusations filed to revoke or suspend a license, 12 citations issued for violations of contractor law, 11 criminal cases filed by local district attorney’s offices, and $215,000 in restitution ordered for wronged consumers.

CSLB has strong words of caution for those who would enter these arrangements: If you act as an RMO and do not have active and financial involvement in the construction and business operations, you risk CSLB administrative penalties against your license(s) as well as criminal prosecution, regardless of whether you’re aware of substandard work being performed by unqualified individuals.

The task force also is watching for exam waiver requests from applicants suspected of only seeking to rent their name for a fee. CSLB also will seek to revoke qualifier status previously granted to anyone whose actions demonstrate they do not have an ownership stake or are not active decision makers listed on a license.

A review of BPC section 7065 will provide further explanation of examination waiver laws.

End of article

Very last comment…. do I think the CSLB should be taking action against the extremely small percentage of contractor RMOs for hire? Yes.  Should they create an unregulated task force with no oversight to invade the businesses of California contractors? …. Not just no, but hell no!

Critical Classification Application Under Review

Critical Classification Application Under ReviewI’m often asked, pretty much daily, what should an applicant do when they are dealing with a critical classification application under review.

If you are applying for the C10 Electrical, B General Building, A General Engineering, C20 HVAC, etc. and your application is under review, this email Q&A and I had with a C10 applicant might also help you or somebody you know.

Q. Based on my application you looked at, what are the odds of them accepting it without requiring more documentation?

A. Slim to none. They’ve been asking all applicants with a critical classification for additional documents.

Q. If the odds are very low they accept as is then what do they increase by if I include documentation (1099s, permits, materials receipts, tax returns) with the application on the first submittal or should I wait for them to ask?

A. You should submit any/all documents you have with the app. If they find it acceptable, they’ll schedule you for the exam. If not, they’ll ask for more documentation.

Q. I have lots of different documentation but not a fully complete timeline record of EVERYTHING. Do they show any leniency to applicants who include lots of information from the start?

A. Not that I’ve experienced.

Q. I do have enough documented experience over the last ten years to get a B but would only consider that if it was a stepping stone which made it easier to get the C-10 later. Do you think this would help me to get the C-10 if I put off applying for 2 to 3 years? Could having a B potentially work against me getting a C-10 in two to three years?

A. To get either you’ll have to provide the written documentation. The B requires experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades. The C10 could be easier to get if your experience is directly and solely related to the c10. If you were to get the B and then apply for a c10 in a couple three years, it might be harder to show at least 4 yrs of c10 experience. Also, if you have the B you cannot bid on or sign contracts for a single trade like the c10.

Q. Would it help to get sign offs on shorter term experience from more B contractors who I have done electrical for?  This goes back to the more information included with the original submittal, does it decrease the odds of them requiring more documentation / increase the chances they accept the application as is.

A. Submitting more work experience forms does not generally help or hurt. They’ve made the certifier a moot point because of the documentation requirement.

Q. Does it carry any weight if I include some projects done for homeowners and include their permits, check written to me, materials receipts, and invoice?

A. That would help. But the permit would have to be in your name in order for you to get “credit” for it.

Q. Do you think submitting a 1099 for experience where the employer box is checked is a red flag and should be used as self-employment experience instead? I know that the experience with the C-10 i work for definitely is an employee relationship rather than a contract type, I show up when he tells me to show up and act on his direction under his supervision.

A. How does the CSLB look at 1099s in this regard? As a 1099 “employee” you are working as self-employed. Only if you are on payroll for the company would you be considered an employee.

Q. Based on the letter you attached in your previous email showing request for more info to that applicant,  if I were to get a similar letter and respond with not enough documentation then would that void my application or would there be another opportunity to submit more? When does the application usually drop dead?

A. If you did not submit enough documentation to satisfy the licensing department they would send you an “options letter.” This letter gives you the option to withdraw the app, use some other qualified individual to act as the qualifier on your license, or go to a formal investigation. If you choose the formal investigation, they will send you to the exams and an investigator will be assigned. That investigator will ask you for more/the same documentation that the licensing unit asked for. The investigator will also contact your certifiers to verify your experience. If the investigator does not approve of your experience you can either withdraw the app or they will deny your app. A denial means you’d have to wait a year before reapplying, and you’d have a denial flag on your name in their system.

Q. If I do submit my application and it ultimately gets tossed then can I re apply later with other documentation? Does the CSLB keep a copy of previous applications on file and refer back to those in this sort of scenario?

A. As answered in Q6, a denial has a one year waiting period. If you withdraw the app on your own, you can reapply at any time. The new app would be subjected to the same documentation and you’d have to re-submit everything plus any new documentation.

Q. The above question sorta relates to if it helps to apply for a B first and what experience is submitted with that. I would hate to shoot myself in the foot.

A. The issue is… when you apply for an additional classification, they will not accept experience that you submitted previously for the original classification. If your contracts are only for C10 work, you’ll want to apply for the C10 with the initial license.

Q. If I do include lots of documentation with the application before they ask then could this tick off the reviewer by being overwhelmed with paperwork or does it make me look more serious and more well prepared? (sort of already asked this question above)

A. Better to send everything with the initial submittal. Saves them from having to send you a letter requesting the docs and having to sit on the application until you reply to their letter.

Q. How would you approach this if you were in my shoes?

A. Create a chronological binder with all the documentation I had, submit it with the application, cross my fingers.

Q. Do you think I should just suck it up and do another year working for the C-10 guy (1099) or would you suggest a different route to document experience if you think I should wait to have a better documented history?

A. This all depends on the documentation you have now. If you feel it shows a solid four years (minimum) of experience, I’d say apply now. If you went thru the app process and the cslb said you needed one more year, withdraw your app work another year, then resubmit everything.

Q. Guessing you have seen others in my same predicament so what has made the biggest differences for them being able to get their applications accepted?

A. How well prepared your documentation is.

Q. The C-10 guy I work for has mentioned partnering with me a few times. Would there be some mid-term benefits to going this route and getting on his license then applying for my own later? I am not sure how this works but have heard of others getting brought in that way. The guy is a bit hard to work for / with so this would be a last resort but good to know the answers if it comes to that.

A. This scenario is included in the cslb “options” letter. You could use someone else to be your qualifier. After X amount of years, you could apply to replace that qualifier on the license.

So if you find yourself with a critical classification application under review, let me know and we can discuss your specific circumstances. I offer a very affordable consultation service. Click here if you’d like to discuss what you can do.

Contact your State Representative

If you are having problems with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), you should contact your State Representative.

Contact your State RepresentativeBelow is a letter I received from my Rep back in 2013 in response to a complaint I filed. As you’ll see, they contacted the CSLB on my behalf.

My take-away from this letter is that they just repeated what the CSLB told the Rep’s contact person. And even though this was not the outcome I was hoping for, they still told the CSLB (in essence) that people are filing formal complaints. I should have pressed the issue more with the Rep’s office, but at the time the CSLB app process in place was new and there was no history to bolster my complaint.

It’s clear now that they are profiling applicants based on the classification they are applying for. I have learned in recent months that the CSLB is no longer using the term “critical classifications.” I believe they dropped the term because they know that it equates to an underground regulation.

Some people wonder that if by filing a complaint with your Rep, the CSLB will retaliate by denying your application. It would be illegal for the CSLB to do that, and they tend to fear the Legislature, so I think you should feel comfortable filing such a complaint.

Bottom line, if you’re having trouble dealing with, getting answers from, being harassed by the CSLB, you should contact your State Representative. Click here to find out who your Rep is.

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CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter

The CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter was sent out today.

Here are my highlights… or lowlights.

CSLBs Illegal Critical ClassificationsIn the Chair’s opening statement he said: “You can expect CSLB to continue its vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors and unscrupulous businesses through sting operations, construction site sweeps, and other strategies. We want to build more partnerships with licensees, industry groups, and government agencies to present a united front against individuals and businesses who try to hide from state laws or take advantage of consumers.”

Once again, they’re missing the bigger picture. Cause and effect, if you will. “…vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors…” The Contractors State License Board is playing a HUGE part in creating the large amount of unlicensed contractors with their “vigorous regulations.”

For over two years now they have been putting applicants through the wringer with their “profiling” of specific applications. They continue to quote the regulation that requires them to perform a secondary review of at least three percent of all apps received. What I’m hoping/praying will happen is that the State Legislature or an attorney will finally call the CSLB to the mat on this.

They are not randomly selecting applications as the law states, they specifically profiling and targeting these classifications. Last week I was told by a CSLB employee that they should no longer use the term “critical classifications.” I guess they realized that using this term was illegal. DUH!!! They can’t just decide on the whim of a single power hungry CSLB employee to profile specific individuals.

That’s all for now. More later.

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

 

State accuses Bonney Plumbing

State accuses Bonney Plumbing of misleading, overcharging customers

Judge to determine if top-rated company will keep its license.

Below is an article from KCRA’s website about a local plumbing company.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —The Better Business Bureau rates Bonney Plumbing an A+, and the company is one of the biggest plumbing contractors in Northern California — but KCRA 3’s investigative team has found the business may be in danger of losing its license.

The state of California is accusing Bonney Plumbing of deliberately misleading and overcharging customers.

Two years ago Leonard Granger was looking for a plumber. He needed to replace the water heaters at two homes. So he turned to Bonney, partially he says because the company is among the biggest of its kind in the Sacramento area.

“I saw their ads on TV and I listened to it on the radio,” Granger said. “When they said, ‘You can trust us from the very beginning — we’ll get the permits, we’ll go all the way through the job and conform with the state code and county code,’ and so forth, I thought, ‘Now that’s the outfit I want to work with.’”

The company is certainly high profile. The red-and-blue vans have been a staple since Mark Bonney started the company in 1978. Bonney Plumbing now has more than 100 of those vans, and 150 employees. The business promotes itself with ads on TV. The new pro soccer stadium at Cal Expo is even called Bonney Field.

With that pedigree, Granger hired the company to install the water heaters at his farm in Vacaville and another property in Dixon.

Receipts show Granger paid more than $2,000 for one job and about $1,800 for the other. Granger said Bonney’s employees told him Dixon city code and Solano County code both required expansion tanks to be installed with the water heater. He paid nearly $450 for both tanks.

“I’m not sure what that does,” said Granger, pointing out the tanks to KCRA 3. He added that he paid at least $150 for permits and “administrative fees” on each job.
“(Bonney Plumbing) did a wonderful job,” Granger said. “I have no complaints about the work.”

But months later, that all changed when Granger called the city of Dixon and Solano County to find out why his scheduled inspections hadn’t been completed.

“I called both offices and they looked through their files (and said), ‘We don’t have no reference of the work ever being done,’” Granger said. “’No permit ever permitted or anything.’”

Not only had the person doing the work for Granger not pulled the permits, but Granger building officials say he was charged more than he should have been.

Solano County officials told KCRA 3 that a permit for a replacement water heater should cost $100, not the $150 that Granger was charged for the permit and administrative fees.

For the permit in Granger’s Dixon home, the city said it normally costs anywhere from $36 to about $40. Bonney charged him $163 for the permit and administrative fees. This was on top of the cost of replacing the water heaters.
Bonney never pulled the permit for either job.

“Oh yes, it went from something like $1,300 to $2,000 with all the additional things they added on,” Granger said. “And I wasn’t aware of it. He says that’s all required.”

So, Granger filed a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. It turns out, he wasn’t the only one in a similar situation.

“In some cases, they actually charged the consumers for the permits and then never went and pulled them,” said Rick Lopes, with the board.

The board found Bonney never pulled the permits. It also found the expansion tanks that Granger was told were required for code compliance were not required by the city or county.

The state said the Bonney employees who did the work weren’t registered with the Contractors State License Board, either.

“These people are elderly and not always in the best care of their own faculties,” Lopes said. “And we’re concerned they (are) being taken advantage of.”

The board found three other cases, all of them involving customers older than the age of 80.

“What’s concerning to us about this (is), it looks (like) the work went beyond just the repair work,” Lopes said.

In one case, the state said a 94-year-old customer paid about $3,000 more for a water heater repair than what the state’s expert thought she should have been charged.

In another instance, an 80-year-old woman had her sinks and toilets clogged. After agreeing to replace her sewer line for just more than $6,000, the complaint alleges that her son stepped in — after Bonney had nearly completed the work — and stopped them. The board said this was because a Bonney employee said it would cost another $2,500 to finish.

None of the Bonney employees in these cases were registered with the Contractors State License Board, and in all four cases, the employees failed to pull the building permits.

“We’ve got evidence that leads us to believe that, you know, laws have been broken,” Lopes said. “And it deserves us taking a look at trying to take away the license.”

The board filed an accusation, the most serious action it can take, and referred the case to the state attorney general, who will plead the case before an administrative law judge.

“Our big concern here is to make sure that the people who were harmed receive restitution and that we make sure systems are in place,” Lopes said. “(We want) to make sure this doesn’t become a business practice — that we actually have things in place to make sure these kinds of things don’t happen.”

KCRA 3’s investigative team contacted Bonney Plumbing, hoping to get the company’s response.

A spokesperson would not appear on camera, but in a phone call, Bonney CEO Jimmy Crabbe said he believes the company has been wrongly accused.

He added that it would be “inappropriate to speak about a pending investigation.”

The company did send KCRA 3 a statement saying that in the wake of the Contractors State License Board accusation, it has “dedicated a new department of three additional people to monitor and safeguard the permitting process.”

Yet, the decision is in the hands of a judge to determine if Bonney will keep its license and pay back all the customers in the complaint.

Granger received a letter from Mark Bonney, admitting the company didn’t pull the permits for his job. Bonney gave Granger a $200 check for his “inconvenience.”

Still, Granger is happy the state took his complaint seriously.

“[The state] took my case and took it all the way along with the other people — all the way to the top,” Granger said. “And I really appreciate what they are doing for the little man in this state.”

The Contractors State License Board and the attorney general are still waiting for a hearing date on the accusation.

Mark Bonney has sold the company since the investigation began, but the board is still asking to revoke his license, as well as the licenses of those employees involved in the case.

The board also wants Bonney to pay restitution to the customers listed in the accusation.

[Read more…]

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.