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Typically speaking, a contractor cannot be responsible for the wages of a licensed subcontractor. If, however, the subcontractor you hired was unlicensed, you could be in some trouble.
If the contractor is licensed, then you can point the employees to the Washington department of labor (or California if the employees are based out of California) here:
They can make a wage claim against the subcontractor leaving you out of it.
However, if subcontractor is unlicensed, then under Sanders Const.Co., Inc. v. Cerda you could be held liable if you continued to work with the subcontractor knowing that they were an unlicensed subcontractor.
In this instance, you should go out and hire an employment attorney in your area immediately to make sure you end up paying as little out of pocket as possible for this. If you decide to hire an attorney a great resource is www.Martindale.com. This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys willing to take your case prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.
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So I tell the employees in CA to contact WA labor board? Terry
Hi Terry,That completely depends on where the work was performed and where the employees are based. If the subcontractor hired California employees to do work in California, then they would make an unpaid wage claim in California. The location of incorporation does not matter. This can be done here:http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htmHowever, if the subcontractor hired Washington employees living in Washington and the work was done in Washington or on a one time basis in California, then they would file in Washington.
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