January 18, 2017
By Beth Daley, The Eye
Federal prosecutors are investigating an asbestos-removal company active in the Boston area to see whether the firm withheld wages and benefits from workers, according to people familiar with the matter.
The case is part of widening U.S. Justice Department activity and private civil action targeting asbestos-removal and demolition contractors for alleged worker mistreatment amid a construction and renovation boom in Massachusetts.
Registered asbestos-abatement jobs in the state totaled 25,660 in 2016, up 64 percent in five years, as construction materials in many older buildings being torn apart for renovation often contain the carcinogenic mineral.
Within the last two years, two criminal cases and three civil lawsuits have been brought in U.S. District Court in Boston alleging companies are cheating asbestos-removal or demolition workers on wage and benefits payments. In one of the cases, the owner of an asbestos-abatement firm pleaded guilty to federal charges after prosecutors alleged he paid workers in cash to avoid employment taxes and payments he owed to union benefit funds