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Probe underscores concern with wage-and-hour-law violations

California workers who are paid by the hour are of course cognizant of and thankful for a state labor law that takes their personal welfare into account when they work exceptionally long hours. That law mandates that they be paid 1.5 times their regular pay for every hour they toil that exceeds eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week.

Good-faith and conscientious employers value their employees, of course, and duly comply with legal requirements by cutting paychecks that are always timely and accurate.

Acting ethically and in accordance with law is not foremost on the minds of all managers in workplaces across California and the rest of the country, though, which is why allegations and charges of wage-and-hour-law violations are common.

One recent example surfaces through a federal probe that was announced by labor officials who are now taking a close look at a custodial contracting company hired by the University of California university system at UC-Berkeley. That company is alleged to have committed myriad illegalities in its treatment of employees.

In fact, federal investigators are examining claims that the company sometimes required contract workers to toil for as many as 90 hours in a work week, while denying them overtime pay. One woman claims she sometimes had no time to take breaks. She says that the custodial company fired her after she began participating in organized workers' meetings.

Although UC-Berkeley says that the matter is not formally its concern, a number of critics charge that it patently is and that the UC system needs to exercise tighter controls over the contract companies it employs.