Working as a general contractor in California has its frustrations and challenges. You have to deal with state laws and local codes, and you must be vigilant to uphold high standards to avoid damaging the reputation of your business. You know that many of those contractors with whom you compete for business do not hold valid contractor’s licenses, so you must protect your license every day on the job.
This is why it can be upsetting when a client files a complaint against you to the Contractors State License Board. The CSLB takes every complaint seriously, but certain violations can place your license and your career at risk.
Understanding the complaint process
The CSLB typically addresses complaints in the order in which they arrive at the agency. The exception is when someone files a complaint against a contractor alleging a serious threat to the health or safety of the public. These allegations are a high priority and may move to the top of the list. If your situation does not involve a serious violation, you may be able to work it out with your client. In fact, the CSLB may require you and your client to try mediation or arbitration to resolve your dispute.
If mediation does not work or if the CSLB agrees the grievance against you is critical, the agency will assign an enforcement representative to investigate the situation. The ER will conduct interviews and gather information to determine if there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation. Common violations include failing to pay your subcontractors, diverting funds, deliberately ignoring safety protocol or violating the contract with your customer, among other actions.
Your rights throughout the process
If the investigator concludes that you have violated the law, you may face criminal charges in addition to civil penalties. However, even if criminal charges are not appropriate in your case, a civil fine can reach thousands of dollars. The CSLB may also suspend or revoke your license, which means you cannot legally practice your trade. If your family depends on you to support them, you may find yourself in a serious situation.
If at any time you face disciplinary action related to your professional license, you have the right to legal representation. An attorney with experience protecting the licenses and livelihoods of California professionals may be of assistance to you from the earliest moments of your case.