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As an employee, can I file a mechanics lien against my employer for unpaid wages in California?

CaliforniaLicensesMechanics LienRight to Lien

In California if I'm working for a licensed contractor or an unlicensed contractor can I as an employee file a mechanic's lien on a property if my boss doesn't pay me. Here's the situation I was paid cash but shorted from our original agreement. I don't believe my employer has a contractor's license either does that matter and can I file a mechanic's lien if he doesn't pay me

2 replies

Feb 4, 2020
California has strict licensing requirements, not only can unlicensed contractors not file a mechanics lien (when a license is required for their work) they also can't bring suit to recover at all, and in fact, may be forced to repay anything already paid! This is true for direct contractors, subcontractors, independent contractors doing work that requires a license, etc. Note, however, that employees of a contractor (wage laborers) are not required to be individually licensed. This exception occurs when the unlicensed party is an employee of some other party on the job. Employees are not required to be individually licensed, and Bus. & Prof Code. § 7053 sets forth qualities to be used in the determination of whether or not a party is properly classified as an employee. Specifically, the licensing requirements do not apply to parties who: 1) receives wages as his or her sole compensation, 2) does not customarily engage in an independently established business, and 3) does not have the right to control or discretion as to the manner of performance so as to determine the final results of the work performed. Further, while unlicensed parties are generally not allowed to file enforceable mechanics liens, that only applies to parties who are required to have a license to do the work performed. Since licensing requirements do not apply to an employee, an employee is able to file a mechanics lien. And, the preliminary notice requirements that apply to everybody else on a project do not apply to wage-laborers (employees) so the lack of providing a preliminary notice does not preclude a later lien filing.
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