OSHA: Hanford Contractor Must Pay $220,000 in Back Wages to Whistleblower

A contractor for the Department of Energy’s decommissioned Hanford nuclear site in Washington state has been ordered to reinstate an environmental specialist and pay more than $220,000 in back wages and other expenses after it fired the employee for voicing nuclear and environmental safety concerns.

OSHA took the actions against Washington River Protection Solutions after the employee repeatedly reported nuclear and environmental safety and permit and record keeping violations. When the employer advertised the vacant position, the employer refused to rehire the employee despite adequate qualifications and previous satisfactory performance reviews, according to OSHA.

“The people most able to identify hazards are often the workers who are threatened by them,” said Galen Lemke, OSHA’s acting regional administrator. “Employees must never be punished for sounding an alarm when they see a problem that could injure, sicken or kill someone, or harm the environment.”

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California Public Works Contractors Must Register With State by March 2015

The California Legislature imposed a new registration requirement for contractors and subcontractors involved in public works projects. Senate Bill 854, passed in June, created a registration program, which went into effect on  July 1, to fund the Department of Industrial Relations’ monitoring and enforcement of prevailing wage laws.

The registration period is open now, and contractors and subcontractors wishing to work on a public works project must be registered by March 1, 2015. For public agencies/awarding bodies, the new law requires that all public works projects with bids submitted after March 1, 2015, or awarded on or after April 1, 2015, use only registered contractors and subcontractors. The bill also requires public agencies to include notice of the registration requirement in their bid invitations and bid documents.

Public agencies must additionally file notice of their public works projects with DIR using DIR form PWC-100 (contract award notice) for all public works projects. This requirement previously applied to about 90 percent of all projects.

Contractor and subcontractor registration is completed through an online application and requires a non-refundable $300 fee to be paid by the contractors and subcontractors. Contractors must pay an annual renewal fee by July 1 of each year. The registration form is located on the DIR’s website.

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Sacramento, California, Landscaper to Pay More than $185,000 in Back Wages and Damages to Employees

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento-based Frank Carson Landscape & Maintenance Inc., doing business as Carson Landscape Industries, The Grove and TurfPro, has agreed to pay $185,270 in back wages and liquidated damages to 164 of their employees because of Fair Labor Standards Act overtime and record-keeping requirement violations. The agreement followed an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Investigators from the division’s Sacramento District Office found that the company failed to pay time and one- half for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek, as required by law. The company failed to maintain accurate records of hours employees worked before and after their scheduled shifts, and paid only for scheduled hours rather than actual hours worked.

“This investigation puts money back into the hands of workers denied their rightfully earned wages. This practice hurts not only workers and their families, but it gives companies that violate the law an unfair competitive advantage,” said Richard Newton, the division’s district director in Sacramento.

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Contractor Gets Probation in Prevailing Wage Case

Indianapolis construction contractor David Roark was sentenced Wednesday in Marion County Court to two years of probation after he was accused of violating the state’s common wage law.

The owner of D. Roark Drywall LLC agreed in June to plead guilty to Class D felony theft to avoid more extensive charges for underpaying drywall installers for their work on the Barton Towers project in downtown Indianapolis.

Roark was taken into custody in February 2013 on two counts of forgery, one count of theft, and five misdemeanor counts of common construction wage violation.

As part of a plea agreement, Roark is also required to complete 200 hours of community service work and make $24,311 in restitution to two employees.

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3 AZ Companies Pay Nearly Quarter Million in Back Wages

Hundreds of Valley workers are getting paid the money they’ve been waiting for.

Two security service providers and a piping company are paying their workers back more than $220,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor spokesman Jose Carnevali.

Special Security Force Inc. and United Metro Security Force LLC in Peoria paid $70,633 in back wages to 203 workers and $24,849 in penalties.

An investigation found that workers weren’t getting half-time pay for hours beyond the 40-hour work week and were only being paid for “scheduled” hours instead of hours worked.

Investigators also found the company made improper deductions to cover the costs of uniforms, cleaning fees, security equipment and other miscellaneous items, Carnevali said.

In an unrelated case, Speedy Gonzalez Construction, a contractor specializing in underground piping for electrical services in Glendale, paid $152,615 in back wages to 41 workers. 

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Giving America a Raise: A Progress Report

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour-a move that would boost the bottom lines of businesses and increase the earnings of 28 million hardworking Americans.

It’s a commonsense proposal that Republicans in Congress continue to block-which is why President Obama took action to raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts. And states, cities, and businesses across the country are doing their part, too.

new White House report released today looks at the progress businesses and communities are making in raising the minimum wage for millions of workers. In fact, since the President first called for a minimum wage increase in 2013, 13 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to increase their minimum wage, which will benefit about 7 million workers.

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OFCCP Proposes Rule to Collect Summary Compensation Data from Contractors in New Equal Pay Report

On August 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring covered federal contractors and subcontractors with more than 100 employees to submit an annual Equal Pay Report on employee compensation.  The rule will be published shortly in the Federal Register.

The data will enable OFCCP to direct its enforcement resources toward federal contractors whose summary data suggests potential pay violations, while reducing the likelihood of reviewing companies that are less likely to be out of compliance.  OFCCP will also release aggregate summary data on the race and gender pay gap by industry and EEO-1 category to enable contractors to review their pay data using the same metrics as OFCCP and take voluntary compliance measures.  By using existing reporting frameworks contractors already maintain in electronic payroll records, including W-2 earnings, and the longstanding categories and definitions that apply to the EEO-1 Report, the agency is avoiding costly new recordkeeping requirements and minimizing to the extent feasible the compliance burden on federal contractors and subcontractors.

The deadline for submitting comments will be 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

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Labor Bureau Recovers Lost Wages

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has secured more than $20,000 for 10 workers for a Salem contractor not paid wages to which they were entitled on a Pearl District park project.

The overtime and prevailing wage violations stem from work performed by Salem contractor Green Thumb Landscaping on The Fields Neighborhood Park in Portland’s Pearl District. Green Thumb Landscaping was a subcontractor on the public works project.

During investigation, Green Thumb initially refused to provide investigators with documents necessary to determine the accuracy of the workers’ claims. The bureau subpoenaed Green Thumb to provide it with the material, including payroll records and contact information for potentially affected employees.

The wages recovered represent the latest unlawful practice from the contracting firm. The bureau has secured more than $70,000 in unpaid wages from Green Thumb Landscaping and Maintenance, Green Thumb Yard Maintenance Inc., Green Thumb LLC and Green Thumb and Maintenance Inc. for previous wage and hour violations.

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Misclassified Employees Force Taxpayers To Subsidize Costs, Harm Economy

CHICAGO – Illinois employers wrongly classified nearly 20,000 of their workers as independent contractors rather than full-time employees in 2013, skipping out on more than $250 million in wages and contributions to funds that support laid-off and injured workers, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said today.

Taxpayers ultimately cover the costs of misclassified workers because it robs the state of payroll taxes normally removed from a worker’s paycheck. Those funds typically are not removed from payments given to independent contractors. In some cases, a homeowner could be responsible for costs incurred if a misclassified worker is injured while working on the owner’s dwelling.

“The consequences of misclassification are easy to see when a worker is hurt or an honest business owner is under-bid for a project. What hides in plain sight are the socialized costs that occur when a dishonest employer deceives a customer and cuts corners by not playing by the rules,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said.

“The labor movement is about creating strong communities and protecting workers from unscrupulous employers,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez. “Tactics like worker misclassification erodes that by violating workers’ employment and labor rights.”

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Non-Union Contractor Caught Shaving $50/hour Off Worker Paychecks on City Funded Project in NY

As contractor on the Sugar Hill housing project in Harlem, MountCo construction was supposed to be paying its workers the prevailing wage (nearly $65 an hour).  The reality? Workers on the project were making closer to $15 and being forced to lie about their earnings to inspectors who were there to monitor the company because of its history of failing to do so.

Construction of taxpayer subsidized projects is big business, regulated to ensure maximum positive economic impact on the community.  The name of MountCo’s non-union game, sadly, is inflating profits by drastically underpaying workers. The city is now looking to recover nearly $300,000 in back wages owed to the workers, the New York Daily News writes.

Workers told NDN that on that day of the project’s press conference completion, they were kept in the top half of the building so they would not be seen by the press or reveal to the Mayor the problems with the contractor.  What’s worse, many of them were paid for only half days and told the reason was how little work there was to do on those top floors.

“They told us we had to work on the ninth floor or higher. We couldn’t work any lower than that. They were going to tell us when we could go downstairs,” one worker, who did not want to be identified, told The News. “They wouldn’t let us see him.”

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