A heating and air contractor was ordered to pay $824,570 in wages for failing to pay 10 employees legal wages for their work on the El Camino College bookstore, state Labor Commissioner Julie Su announced Thursday.

Los Angeles-based Ace Cooling & Heating Corp., a subcontractor on the job, also was ordered to pay $23,685 into a training fund and $114,300 in fines under the civil wage and penalty assessment issued by Su.

"In this case, sheet metal workers were paid between $8.50 and $16 per hour and were significantly underpaid on this project," Su said. "This is a classic example of wage theft and my office will take immediate action against a business who steals money from their workers."

Labor Commission investigators found evidence that showed Ace Cooling & Heating willfully broke the law by failing to pay proper prevailing wages: Ace intentionally underpaid its workers $39 to $46 per hour.

Su also served a civil wage and penalty assessment against Mackone Development Inc., the prime contractor.

"Prime contractors are jointly and severally liable for their subcontractors who fail to follow California's labor law," Su stated. "It is our practice to investigate all parties responsible for labor law violations to put the proper incentive on decision-makers in construction projects to deal only with honest, law-abiding contractors."