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Image of Chad T. Wishchuk, a partner at Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP.

Chad T. Wishchuk

Partner

Employers in California constantly face new and ever-changing obligations under California’s employee-friendly laws. Chad has been on the forefront of California employment and labor law, working on the side of employers, for over twenty years.

(858) 737-3100; Ext. 3044

(858) 737-3101

Chad Wishchuk is a highly experienced litigator and advisor who works with business owners and principals, executive management, human resources managers, and in-house counsel on a wide range of labor and employment matters.  Chad’s construction industry clients include general contractors, subcontractors, and sureties.  Beyond the construction field, clients include companies in banking and finance, food and beverage, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and technology.

Mr. Wishchuk began his career in 1996 with a Philadelphia-based law firm specializing in labor and employment and construction law, where he gained significant experience representing management in a predominantly union construction arena.  Since joining Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP in 2001, Chad has been on the legal forefront of fast-changing California’s labor and employment laws.

Chad serves as in-house counsel for Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP employment matters.

WAGE AND HOUR DEFENSE AND LITIGATION

The complex state and federal regulatory environment defining employer wage payment responsibilities presents challenges to knowledgeable and unknowing business owners and managers alike.  Failure to properly pay all wages, inadequate meal and rest period provisions, non-compliant reimbursement policies, and other missteps often result in fines and penalties — sometimes significant.  Class action suits that may evolve from these cases can destroy companies entirely.  Chad’s experience with the California Private Attorneys General Act, the application of arbitration remedies, and preparing protective policies and other legal strategies is invaluable.  If your business policies and practices have proven insufficient to keep your company out of a lawsuit, Chad may be able to enhance your ability for a strong defense.

CALIFORNIA AND FEDERAL PREVAILING WAGE DEFENSE

The California Prevailing Wage Law and federal Davis-Bacon Act have proven perilous to construction companies.  The labyrinth of complex, often obscure, regulations pertaining to proper payment procedures, wage determinations, record keeping, and apprenticeship frequently result in massive penalty assessments.  With over two decades of specialized expertise and practical knowledge, Chad provides unsurpassed legal counsel regarding these matters.  In fact, Chad has helped to amend the California Labor Code to benefit employers.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT DEFENSE

Faithful adherence by employers to current anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in employee-friendly California is imperative.  The ramifications of discrimination missteps, wrongful discharge, or improper terminations can devastate a business.  Chad’s extensive knowledge in this area has produced positive legal outcomes for clients dealing with employee claims brought before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in state and federal courtrooms.

TRAINING, COUNSELING, POLICY REVIEW, AND EMPLOYEE AGREEMENTS

The state and federal laws that exist to protect employees are abundant; the need to comply with these laws critical.  Enforcement by public agencies and private claimants costs U.S. businesses millions of dollars and damaged reputations each year.  For companies that seek to minimize risk and manage their exposure to costly, time-consuming litigation, an ounce of prevention goes a long way.  Put the right policies, employee agreements, training, and counseling procedures in place to protect your business.  Contact Chad today to schedule a review.

CALIFORNIA AND FEDERAL OSHA DEFENSE AND COMPLIANCE

Given the many construction contractors and other businesses represented by the firm, Chad’s expertise and success in defending Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA cases — and providing expert pre- litigation counsel — is beyond reproach.  Proactive clients routinely turn to his business advice and legal counsel to ensure that their workplace health and safety documentation and training procedures are fully compliant.  Chad also has a long and successful record in assisting with the defense of citations brought by Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA.

NEGOTIATE AND ADMINISTER UNION COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS AND PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS

Chad is experienced and skilled in handling grievances alleged under union agreements, as well as representing clients in unfair labor practice charges.  When the need arises to negotiate and administer union collective bargaining or project labor agreements, the prudent legal advice Chad brings to the table is sure to strengthen your position.

  • Employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful discharge litigation
  • Wage and hour litigation, including meal and rest break, overtime, class action, Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), California Labor Code, and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims
  • State and federal prevailing wage cases, including Davis-Bacon and apprenticeship matters
  • Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA cases
  • Misappropriation of trade secret cases
  • Employment agreements, employee handbooks, and policies
  • United States Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) compliance audits
  • Employment tax audits by the California Employment Development Department (EDD)
  • Section 132a, and serious and willful misconduct cases before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB)
  • Representing management in the administration of collective bargaining and project labor agreements, union election campaigns, and unfair labor practice proceedings before the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  • Other state, federal, and local compliance matters
  • Significant experience with the California Department of Industrial Relations, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and state approved labor compliance programs, as well as the federal Department of Labor, including administrative hearings, arbitrations, and trials
  • Litigation prevention
Taylor Frager

The firm successfully defended a general contractor’s right to prevent illegal trespassing by union business agents on a private construction job in San Diego. The union filed unfair labor practice charges against the firm’s client when its union business agents were denied access to a jobsite and then locked in the jobsite fence to await police assistance. The Office of General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board agreed the charges should be dismissed because the business agents did not have the right to access the interior of the construction jobsite, especially given the posted no-access and no-solicitation rules.

(N.L.R.B.G.C., No. 21-CA-35568) 2003 WL 22927217 (August 28, 2003)

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of Labor Code Section 98 Wage Claims At A California Labor Commissioner “Berman Hearing”

The firm represented TXL, Inc., an oil change business with operations in Brawley, California. The plaintiff, an oil change technician, alleged overtime, meal and rest break, and related claims, including for liquidated damages under Labor Code section 1194.2, waiting time penalties, and interest. A hearing was held before the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner ruled in favor of TXL on every single claim, ordering that the plaintiff take nothing. A copy of the Order, Decision Or Award Of The Labor Commissioner can be found at this link.

State Case Number 10-88772EA

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Firm Prevented A Former Corporate Officer Of A Claim From Misappropriating Trade Secrets And Other Proprietary Business Information

The firm represented a company against the company’s former high-ranking officer and other former employees who resigned abruptly to form a competing business. These former employees used removable hard drives, flash drives, and jump drives to copy sensitive company information and customer lists in violation of the law and non-solicitation and non-compete obligations. The firm filed a lawsuit alleging information theft, trade secret misappropriation, breach of the duties of loyalty and confidentiality, and related claims. With an aggressive and fast-moving litigation strategy, including the use of forensic computer experts who analyzed and imaged thousands of computer files and devices, the firm uncovered the full extent of the corporate espionage and brought it to an end. Ultimately, the firm obtained a court order requiring a complete inventory of all stolen documents and computer files, and forced the former employees to destroy all their ill-gotten computer equipment and files. In the process, the firm successfully defended our client against a counterclaim for unfair business practices.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk and Daniel P. Scholz

Complete Defense Of A Prevailing Wage Forfeiture Action

The firm represented a general contractor and its bonding company on a public works school project in Southern California. The labor compliance program of the school district alleged that a subcontractor on the project willfully violated the California Prevailing Wage Law, by misclassification, under-reporting, and underpayment of prevailing wages and overtime. A notice of withholding of contract payments was issued against the general contractor and subcontractor for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The firm asserted the innocent general contract “safe harbor” defense under the California Labor Code, as well as a statute of limitations defense under Labor Code section 1741. Following our pre-hearing motion to the California Director of Industrial Relations, the entire case was withdrawn and dismissed, resulting in zero dollars of liability for our client and surety.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of OSHA Citation

The firm’s client, an electrical contractor on a commercial hotel renovation project, was cited by OSHA for an alleged failure to properly de-energize and label circuits in an electrical panel. The firm successfully argued that the citation was improper, including because the circuits in questions were not known to the electrical contractor because they did not appear in contract drawings or specifications and were under the exclusive control of the project owner. As a result of the firm’s arguments, OSHA vacated the citation following an early informal conference, with no penalties assessed against the firm’s client.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

In The Matter Of The Request For Review of ASM Affiliates, Inc.

In the first case of its kind under the California prevailing wage law, the firm successfully defended a Civil Wage and Penalty Assessment issued by the California Labor Commissioner against a cultural resources management firm (“CRM”). The Labor Commissioner sought over $200,000 in back wages, penalties and liquidated damages relating to archaeological monitoring and testing services that the CRM firm had performed prior to and during the construction of a rail improvement project. The firm successfully argued that none of archaeological work was covered by the California prevailing wage law because such work was not work performed in “execution of the [public works construction] contract.” After extensive briefing and a hearing, the Director of Industrial relations agreed with the firm and found that the archeological work performed by the firm’s client was not covered by the prevailing wage law. As a result, the entire assessment was dismissed.

A copy of the Director’s decisions can be found here.

DIR Case No. 14-0418-PWH

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of Prevailing Wage Claim Relating To Travel Time

The California Labor Commissioner issued a Civil Wage And Penalty Assessment (“CWPA”) against the firm’s client for alleged unpaid travel and subsistence amounts in connection with work on a school project in San Bernardino, California. The potential liability under the CWPA was over $108,000.00, including liquidated damages. In response to the CWPA, our firm immediately initiated the administrative appeal process under California’s Prevailing Wage Law by filing a request for review hearing and a demand for the Labor Commissioner’s investigatory file. We uncovered mistake after mistake by the Labor Commissioner’s investigation, rendering the CWPA inaccurate. We convinced the Labor Commissioner that our client had complied with the law in all respects. As a result, the Labor Commissioner fully released our client – and the entire CWPA – at the earliest stage in the case, without requiring our client to pay anything, and before our client was required to go to a Department of Industrial Relations hearing.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense of Employee Discrimination Claim

The firm defended a contractor in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee. The lawsuit alleged disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, wrongful termination, and the failure to pay prevailing wages. The former employee sought over $250,000 in alleged lost wages, plus punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The firm removed the case to federal court and convinced the judge to dismiss the punitive damages claims. Prior to significant discovery, the firm was able to negotiate a settlement for a small fraction of the amount initially demanded. This saved the firm’s client valuable time and expense that can now be better used productively in growing the contractor’s business.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk and Daniel P. Scholz

Complete Defense Of Cal/OSHA Citations In A Fatal Workplace Accident

The firm represented a general contractor that received multiple Cal/OSHA citations following a fatal on-the-job accident. From the very outset of the Cal/OSHA investigation on the day of the accident, through to the pre-trial period, the firm defended and counseled the contractor successfully. In the end, based on the evidence and legal arguments developed and presented by the firm, Cal/OSHA dismissed each of the citations in their entirety and dropped the case without a single penny of penalties to the contractor or any negative mark on the contractor’s Cal/OSHA history.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense Of Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

The firm defended a contractor in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who had been laid off as part of a reduction in force. The plaintiff alleged age discrimination, disability discrimination, violations of the federal and state medical leave laws, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He sought over $350,000 in lost wages, plus emotional distress damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. To gain an early strategic advantage, the firm successfully removed the lawsuit from state to federal court, where we then convinced the federal judge to dismiss two significant portions of the lawsuit, including the claims for emotional distress and punitive damages. We then obtained significant admissions from the plaintiff in a heated deposition, which forced him to reduce his demand. The case settled after an early neutral evaluation with the judge, saving the contractor valuable time and tens of thousands of dollars in potential damages and attorneys’ fees.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Serious and Willful Misconduct Case

The firm represented a lath, plaster and drywall subcontractor whose employee suffered serious injuries in an on-site hose whipping accident. The employee alleged the incident was the result of the subcontractor’s serious and willful misconduct, including by not properly locking out/tagging out the hose. He sought more than $250,000 in damages. The firm defended the subcontractor at trial, ultimately obtaining a favorable settlement for a fraction of the original amount claimed.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense Of Civil Wage And Penalty Assessment By The California Labor Commissioner (DLSE)

The firm’s subcontractor client was served with a massive Civil Wage and Penalty Assessment by the California DLSE relating to its work on various public works projects. The assessment included potential liability of over $150,000, including unpaid prevailing wages, substantial Labor Code penalties, liquidated damages and interest. Fourteen workers were audited and claimed to be misclassified and unpaid or underpaid. The firm defended the subcontractor at an administrative hearing before the California Department of Industrial Relations. Based on the firm’s procedural motions and cross-examination of several of the workers, the DLSE dropped the majority of the assessment and settled the matter favorably for the subcontractor.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Early And Efficient Dismissal Of Case Involving Independent Contractors

The firm represented a company in a case by independent contractors. The independent contractors alleged such things as breach of contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and defamation. At the very beginning of the case, the firm attacked the lawsuit for various legal insufficiencies, and the court agreed, dismissing the case against the firm’s client and ending the lawsuit at the earliest stage possible.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Caregiver/Fiduciary/Trust Administrator & Employment Litigation

The firm represented the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar irrevocable trust who was sued by a caregiver and fiduciary engaged by the trust to provide services to the beneficiary and trust, including home healthcare. The beneficiary was a chronically ill and disabled dependent adult. The caregiver sued the beneficiary and the trustee of the trust for breach of an alleged contract of employment for life, seeking wages and benefits, plus emotional distress damages, claiming he was the friend, mentor, life coach, real estate agent, banker and employee of both the beneficiary and the trust. The damages sought exceeded one million dollars. However, the caregiver had obtained a highly suspect power of attorney and numerous so-called “donative transfers” or “gifts,” including cash, jewelry, a car, trips and more, from the trust beneficiary, all despite the beneficiary’s lack of capacity. Early in the case, we successfully eliminated the caregiver’s claims against the beneficiary on the grounds the caregiver’s contractual relationship, if any, was with the trust, not the beneficiary. We then counter-sued for the rescission of the “gifts,” and financial abuse under California’s dependent adult and elder abuse protection statutes. We successfully litigated the matter to trial, at which time the caregiver – when faced with the likely dismissal of his claims plus the prospect of our substantial counterclaims – dismissed his claims in their entity. The client’s claims were favorably resolved.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Urbas v. ASM Affiliates, Inc., California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

The firm victoriously defended this client in an administrative wage and hour proceeding before the California Labor Commissioner. A former employee filed a complaint alleging that she was not timely paid her final wages at termination. She sought substantial “waiting time penalties” under California Labor Code section 203. The firm represented the client in a hearing before a Labor Commissioner hearing officer, successfully arguing that waiting time penalties were not available because there was a good faith dispute as to whether the employee was owed any wages at the time of her termination. The Labor Commissioner ruled in favor of the firm’s client, awarded the employee nothing, and dismissed the case in its entirety.

Case No. 17-56404 DB

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

New Dimension Masonry, Inc.

In an administrative proceeding before the California Department Of Industrial Relations, the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) cited the firm’s client for an alleged failure to comply with the apprenticeship requirements of California’s Prevailing Wage Law at Labor Code section 1777.5 and the California Code of Regulations section 203.1. The firm quickly convinced the DAS that the complainant, a union watchdog-type group, was wrong in its use of the law relating to approved apprenticeship programs and apprentice dispatch requests. The DAS dismissed the complaint before a hearing was necessary. In short order, the firm’s client was paid in full its project funds which had been withheld due to the apprenticeship complaint.

DAS Complaint #2009-0778

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Erickson-Hall Construction Company v. San Diego Unified School District and Graham Champion

The firm recovered over $1 million on behalf of its general contractor client against the school district and its labor compliance program. In this first of its kind lawsuit, the firm asserted civil rights and other claims against the labor compliance program which was withholding contract funds far in excess of that justified by the California Prevailing Wage Law. The case settled, and in addition to the large recovery, the firm’s client was paid its attorneys’ fees.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2008-00087501-CU-WM-CTL

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Chad Wishchuk is a highly experienced litigator and advisor who works with business owners and principals, executive management, human resources managers, and in-house counsel on a wide range of labor and employment matters.  Chad’s construction industry clients include general contractors, subcontractors, and sureties.  Beyond the construction field, clients include companies in banking and finance, food and beverage, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and technology.

Mr. Wishchuk began his career in 1996 with a Philadelphia-based law firm specializing in labor and employment and construction law, where he gained significant experience representing management in a predominantly union construction arena.  Since joining Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP in 2001, Chad has been on the legal forefront of fast-changing California’s labor and employment laws.

Chad serves as in-house counsel for Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP employment matters.

WAGE AND HOUR DEFENSE AND LITIGATION

The complex state and federal regulatory environment defining employer wage payment responsibilities presents challenges to knowledgeable and unknowing business owners and managers alike.  Failure to properly pay all wages, inadequate meal and rest period provisions, non-compliant reimbursement policies, and other missteps often result in fines and penalties — sometimes significant.  Class action suits that may evolve from these cases can destroy companies entirely.  Chad’s experience with the California Private Attorneys General Act, the application of arbitration remedies, and preparing protective policies and other legal strategies is invaluable.  If your business policies and practices have proven insufficient to keep your company out of a lawsuit, Chad may be able to enhance your ability for a strong defense.

CALIFORNIA AND FEDERAL PREVAILING WAGE DEFENSE

The California Prevailing Wage Law and federal Davis-Bacon Act have proven perilous to construction companies.  The labyrinth of complex, often obscure, regulations pertaining to proper payment procedures, wage determinations, record keeping, and apprenticeship frequently result in massive penalty assessments.  With over two decades of specialized expertise and practical knowledge, Chad provides unsurpassed legal counsel regarding these matters.  In fact, Chad has helped to amend the California Labor Code to benefit employers.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT DEFENSE

Faithful adherence by employers to current anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in employee-friendly California is imperative.  The ramifications of discrimination missteps, wrongful discharge, or improper terminations can devastate a business.  Chad’s extensive knowledge in this area has produced positive legal outcomes for clients dealing with employee claims brought before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in state and federal courtrooms.

TRAINING, COUNSELING, POLICY REVIEW, AND EMPLOYEE AGREEMENTS

The state and federal laws that exist to protect employees are abundant; the need to comply with these laws critical.  Enforcement by public agencies and private claimants costs U.S. businesses millions of dollars and damaged reputations each year.  For companies that seek to minimize risk and manage their exposure to costly, time-consuming litigation, an ounce of prevention goes a long way.  Put the right policies, employee agreements, training, and counseling procedures in place to protect your business.  Contact Chad today to schedule a review.

CALIFORNIA AND FEDERAL OSHA DEFENSE AND COMPLIANCE

Given the many construction contractors and other businesses represented by the firm, Chad’s expertise and success in defending Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA cases — and providing expert pre- litigation counsel — is beyond reproach.  Proactive clients routinely turn to his business advice and legal counsel to ensure that their workplace health and safety documentation and training procedures are fully compliant.  Chad also has a long and successful record in assisting with the defense of citations brought by Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA.

NEGOTIATE AND ADMINISTER UNION COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS AND PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS

Chad is experienced and skilled in handling grievances alleged under union agreements, as well as representing clients in unfair labor practice charges.  When the need arises to negotiate and administer union collective bargaining or project labor agreements, the prudent legal advice Chad brings to the table is sure to strengthen your position.

  • Employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful discharge litigation
  • Wage and hour litigation, including meal and rest break, overtime, class action, Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), California Labor Code, and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims
  • State and federal prevailing wage cases, including Davis-Bacon and apprenticeship matters
  • Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA cases
  • Misappropriation of trade secret cases
  • Employment agreements, employee handbooks, and policies
  • United States Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) compliance audits
  • Employment tax audits by the California Employment Development Department (EDD)
  • Section 132a, and serious and willful misconduct cases before the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB)
  • Representing management in the administration of collective bargaining and project labor agreements, union election campaigns, and unfair labor practice proceedings before the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  • Other state, federal, and local compliance matters
  • Significant experience with the California Department of Industrial Relations, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and state approved labor compliance programs, as well as the federal Department of Labor, including administrative hearings, arbitrations, and trials
  • Litigation prevention
Taylor Frager

The firm successfully defended a general contractor’s right to prevent illegal trespassing by union business agents on a private construction job in San Diego. The union filed unfair labor practice charges against the firm’s client when its union business agents were denied access to a jobsite and then locked in the jobsite fence to await police assistance. The Office of General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board agreed the charges should be dismissed because the business agents did not have the right to access the interior of the construction jobsite, especially given the posted no-access and no-solicitation rules.

(N.L.R.B.G.C., No. 21-CA-35568) 2003 WL 22927217 (August 28, 2003)

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of Labor Code Section 98 Wage Claims At A California Labor Commissioner “Berman Hearing”

The firm represented TXL, Inc., an oil change business with operations in Brawley, California. The plaintiff, an oil change technician, alleged overtime, meal and rest break, and related claims, including for liquidated damages under Labor Code section 1194.2, waiting time penalties, and interest. A hearing was held before the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner ruled in favor of TXL on every single claim, ordering that the plaintiff take nothing. A copy of the Order, Decision Or Award Of The Labor Commissioner can be found at this link.

State Case Number 10-88772EA

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Firm Prevented A Former Corporate Officer Of A Claim From Misappropriating Trade Secrets And Other Proprietary Business Information

The firm represented a company against the company’s former high-ranking officer and other former employees who resigned abruptly to form a competing business. These former employees used removable hard drives, flash drives, and jump drives to copy sensitive company information and customer lists in violation of the law and non-solicitation and non-compete obligations. The firm filed a lawsuit alleging information theft, trade secret misappropriation, breach of the duties of loyalty and confidentiality, and related claims. With an aggressive and fast-moving litigation strategy, including the use of forensic computer experts who analyzed and imaged thousands of computer files and devices, the firm uncovered the full extent of the corporate espionage and brought it to an end. Ultimately, the firm obtained a court order requiring a complete inventory of all stolen documents and computer files, and forced the former employees to destroy all their ill-gotten computer equipment and files. In the process, the firm successfully defended our client against a counterclaim for unfair business practices.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk and Daniel P. Scholz

Complete Defense Of A Prevailing Wage Forfeiture Action

The firm represented a general contractor and its bonding company on a public works school project in Southern California. The labor compliance program of the school district alleged that a subcontractor on the project willfully violated the California Prevailing Wage Law, by misclassification, under-reporting, and underpayment of prevailing wages and overtime. A notice of withholding of contract payments was issued against the general contractor and subcontractor for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The firm asserted the innocent general contract “safe harbor” defense under the California Labor Code, as well as a statute of limitations defense under Labor Code section 1741. Following our pre-hearing motion to the California Director of Industrial Relations, the entire case was withdrawn and dismissed, resulting in zero dollars of liability for our client and surety.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of OSHA Citation

The firm’s client, an electrical contractor on a commercial hotel renovation project, was cited by OSHA for an alleged failure to properly de-energize and label circuits in an electrical panel. The firm successfully argued that the citation was improper, including because the circuits in questions were not known to the electrical contractor because they did not appear in contract drawings or specifications and were under the exclusive control of the project owner. As a result of the firm’s arguments, OSHA vacated the citation following an early informal conference, with no penalties assessed against the firm’s client.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

In The Matter Of The Request For Review of ASM Affiliates, Inc.

In the first case of its kind under the California prevailing wage law, the firm successfully defended a Civil Wage and Penalty Assessment issued by the California Labor Commissioner against a cultural resources management firm (“CRM”). The Labor Commissioner sought over $200,000 in back wages, penalties and liquidated damages relating to archaeological monitoring and testing services that the CRM firm had performed prior to and during the construction of a rail improvement project. The firm successfully argued that none of archaeological work was covered by the California prevailing wage law because such work was not work performed in “execution of the [public works construction] contract.” After extensive briefing and a hearing, the Director of Industrial relations agreed with the firm and found that the archeological work performed by the firm’s client was not covered by the prevailing wage law. As a result, the entire assessment was dismissed.

A copy of the Director’s decisions can be found here.

DIR Case No. 14-0418-PWH

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Complete Defense Of Prevailing Wage Claim Relating To Travel Time

The California Labor Commissioner issued a Civil Wage And Penalty Assessment (“CWPA”) against the firm’s client for alleged unpaid travel and subsistence amounts in connection with work on a school project in San Bernardino, California. The potential liability under the CWPA was over $108,000.00, including liquidated damages. In response to the CWPA, our firm immediately initiated the administrative appeal process under California’s Prevailing Wage Law by filing a request for review hearing and a demand for the Labor Commissioner’s investigatory file. We uncovered mistake after mistake by the Labor Commissioner’s investigation, rendering the CWPA inaccurate. We convinced the Labor Commissioner that our client had complied with the law in all respects. As a result, the Labor Commissioner fully released our client – and the entire CWPA – at the earliest stage in the case, without requiring our client to pay anything, and before our client was required to go to a Department of Industrial Relations hearing.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense of Employee Discrimination Claim

The firm defended a contractor in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee. The lawsuit alleged disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, wrongful termination, and the failure to pay prevailing wages. The former employee sought over $250,000 in alleged lost wages, plus punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The firm removed the case to federal court and convinced the judge to dismiss the punitive damages claims. Prior to significant discovery, the firm was able to negotiate a settlement for a small fraction of the amount initially demanded. This saved the firm’s client valuable time and expense that can now be better used productively in growing the contractor’s business.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk and Daniel P. Scholz

Complete Defense Of Cal/OSHA Citations In A Fatal Workplace Accident

The firm represented a general contractor that received multiple Cal/OSHA citations following a fatal on-the-job accident. From the very outset of the Cal/OSHA investigation on the day of the accident, through to the pre-trial period, the firm defended and counseled the contractor successfully. In the end, based on the evidence and legal arguments developed and presented by the firm, Cal/OSHA dismissed each of the citations in their entirety and dropped the case without a single penny of penalties to the contractor or any negative mark on the contractor’s Cal/OSHA history.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense Of Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

The firm defended a contractor in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who had been laid off as part of a reduction in force. The plaintiff alleged age discrimination, disability discrimination, violations of the federal and state medical leave laws, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He sought over $350,000 in lost wages, plus emotional distress damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. To gain an early strategic advantage, the firm successfully removed the lawsuit from state to federal court, where we then convinced the federal judge to dismiss two significant portions of the lawsuit, including the claims for emotional distress and punitive damages. We then obtained significant admissions from the plaintiff in a heated deposition, which forced him to reduce his demand. The case settled after an early neutral evaluation with the judge, saving the contractor valuable time and tens of thousands of dollars in potential damages and attorneys’ fees.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Serious and Willful Misconduct Case

The firm represented a lath, plaster and drywall subcontractor whose employee suffered serious injuries in an on-site hose whipping accident. The employee alleged the incident was the result of the subcontractor’s serious and willful misconduct, including by not properly locking out/tagging out the hose. He sought more than $250,000 in damages. The firm defended the subcontractor at trial, ultimately obtaining a favorable settlement for a fraction of the original amount claimed.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Defense Of Civil Wage And Penalty Assessment By The California Labor Commissioner (DLSE)

The firm’s subcontractor client was served with a massive Civil Wage and Penalty Assessment by the California DLSE relating to its work on various public works projects. The assessment included potential liability of over $150,000, including unpaid prevailing wages, substantial Labor Code penalties, liquidated damages and interest. Fourteen workers were audited and claimed to be misclassified and unpaid or underpaid. The firm defended the subcontractor at an administrative hearing before the California Department of Industrial Relations. Based on the firm’s procedural motions and cross-examination of several of the workers, the DLSE dropped the majority of the assessment and settled the matter favorably for the subcontractor.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Early And Efficient Dismissal Of Case Involving Independent Contractors

The firm represented a company in a case by independent contractors. The independent contractors alleged such things as breach of contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and defamation. At the very beginning of the case, the firm attacked the lawsuit for various legal insufficiencies, and the court agreed, dismissing the case against the firm’s client and ending the lawsuit at the earliest stage possible.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Caregiver/Fiduciary/Trust Administrator & Employment Litigation

The firm represented the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar irrevocable trust who was sued by a caregiver and fiduciary engaged by the trust to provide services to the beneficiary and trust, including home healthcare. The beneficiary was a chronically ill and disabled dependent adult. The caregiver sued the beneficiary and the trustee of the trust for breach of an alleged contract of employment for life, seeking wages and benefits, plus emotional distress damages, claiming he was the friend, mentor, life coach, real estate agent, banker and employee of both the beneficiary and the trust. The damages sought exceeded one million dollars. However, the caregiver had obtained a highly suspect power of attorney and numerous so-called “donative transfers” or “gifts,” including cash, jewelry, a car, trips and more, from the trust beneficiary, all despite the beneficiary’s lack of capacity. Early in the case, we successfully eliminated the caregiver’s claims against the beneficiary on the grounds the caregiver’s contractual relationship, if any, was with the trust, not the beneficiary. We then counter-sued for the rescission of the “gifts,” and financial abuse under California’s dependent adult and elder abuse protection statutes. We successfully litigated the matter to trial, at which time the caregiver – when faced with the likely dismissal of his claims plus the prospect of our substantial counterclaims – dismissed his claims in their entity. The client’s claims were favorably resolved.

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Urbas v. ASM Affiliates, Inc., California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

The firm victoriously defended this client in an administrative wage and hour proceeding before the California Labor Commissioner. A former employee filed a complaint alleging that she was not timely paid her final wages at termination. She sought substantial “waiting time penalties” under California Labor Code section 203. The firm represented the client in a hearing before a Labor Commissioner hearing officer, successfully arguing that waiting time penalties were not available because there was a good faith dispute as to whether the employee was owed any wages at the time of her termination. The Labor Commissioner ruled in favor of the firm’s client, awarded the employee nothing, and dismissed the case in its entirety.

Case No. 17-56404 DB

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

New Dimension Masonry, Inc.

In an administrative proceeding before the California Department Of Industrial Relations, the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) cited the firm’s client for an alleged failure to comply with the apprenticeship requirements of California’s Prevailing Wage Law at Labor Code section 1777.5 and the California Code of Regulations section 203.1. The firm quickly convinced the DAS that the complainant, a union watchdog-type group, was wrong in its use of the law relating to approved apprenticeship programs and apprentice dispatch requests. The DAS dismissed the complaint before a hearing was necessary. In short order, the firm’s client was paid in full its project funds which had been withheld due to the apprenticeship complaint.

DAS Complaint #2009-0778

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Erickson-Hall Construction Company v. San Diego Unified School District and Graham Champion

The firm recovered over $1 million on behalf of its general contractor client against the school district and its labor compliance program. In this first of its kind lawsuit, the firm asserted civil rights and other claims against the labor compliance program which was withholding contract funds far in excess of that justified by the California Prevailing Wage Law. The case settled, and in addition to the large recovery, the firm’s client was paid its attorneys’ fees.

San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2008-00087501-CU-WM-CTL

Counsel: Chad T. Wishchuk

Employers in California constantly face new and ever-changing obligations under California’s employee-friendly laws. Chad has been on the forefront of California employment and labor law, working on the side of employers, for over twenty years.

(858) 737-3100; Ext. 3044

(858) 737-3101

  • Labor & Employment
  • Construction Law
    • Labor & Employment
  • California: State Courts
  • New Jersey: State Courts
  • Pennsylvania: State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals: Third, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits
  • U.S. District Courts of California: Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern
  • U.S. District Court of New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania: Eastern
  • Temple University, J.D., cum laude
  • University of Notre Dame, B.A., Government
  • State Bar of California
  • State Bar of Pennsylvania
  • American Bar Association
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • San Diego Super Lawyer 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 by the San Diego Daily Transcript
  • Top 25 San Diego Labor and Employment Attorney in 2007 and 2008 by the San Diego Daily Transcript
  • Member, Board of Directors, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), San Diego Chapter
  • Member since 2008, Board of Directors, St. Gregory The Great Catholic School

Mr. Wishchuk is an accomplished public speaker and regularly addresses the construction community on a range of training and educational topics, including:

DIR Enforcement of Skilled and Trained Workforce Requirements

New California H.R. Laws For 2019

California Law: Harassment In The Workplace

California Prevailing Wage Law Basics: Labor Commissioner Investigations & Penalty Assessments

California Prevailing Wage, Apprenticeship, and Skilled Workforce Requirements

OFCCP Compliance Basics, Latest Trends, And Developments

Latest On Obama Care: The Employer Mandate Finally Arrives

California Wage & Hour Laws, Best Practices, And Latest Trends

Prevailing Wage Wheel

Lessons In Wage & Hour Laws: Parts I & II

AB 1522: How To Comply With The New Sick Leave Law & Other Legal Updates

H.R. Best Practices & Latest Trends

Prevailing Wage Laws, Including Apprenticeship On Federal, State, And Local Projects

Beyond Progressive Discipline

O.T. Laws: Eliminating Confusion & Ensuring Compliance

Sexual Harassment Training & Education

Image Of Dynamex V. Superior Court Article.
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