Oregon Launches Investigation into Hillsboro Wage Theft Case

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Cornelius Swart, GoLocal PDX Director of Content

 

The State of Oregon has opened an investigation into a Hillsboro company accused of stealing worker’s wages on a series of taxpayer funded construction projects that date back as far as 2011.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry launched a formal investigation into Cornerstone Janitorial last year after GoLocalPDX reported that several former workers claimed they had been denied their full legal wages on a handful of publicly funded construction jobs.

Last year, Hoffman Construction, a general contractor that hired Cornerstone, filed two complaints against the firm for work it did on the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City and an underground parking garage at Portland Community College Cascade Campus in North Portland. BOLI then launched separate investigations into three other projects that Cornerstone worked on over the last four years.

Jose Tandy, a Mexican immigrant and resident of Southeast Portland, has told GoLocalPDX that he was paid an average of $12 an hour for jobs with state-mandated wages of $36. Tandy presumed that Cornerstone owner, Sang Nam, pocketed the difference.

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US Labor Department recovers more than $87K in unpaid wages, overtime for 39 workers on federally funded construction project in Portland, Oregon

U.S. Department of Labor        Date: January 28, 2015

Wage and Hour Division          Release Number: 14-2311-SAN

 
PORTLAND, Ore. — Sierra Construction Co. Inc. has agreed to pay $87,239 in back wages to 39 employees who worked on The Prescott apartment building, a federally financed construction project in Portland. U.S. Department of Labor investigators found that Sierra and two of its subcontractors failed to pay the prevailing wages required by the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Sierra, the general contractor, violated the DBRA by improperly classifying workers in lower-paying positions that did not reflect all duties performed by the employees. For example, on the project carpenters and laborers spent significant time working as ironworkers, but were not paid the proper rate, which can be $7 to $15 more per hour than they were typically paid. Sierra also failed to include information listing the required DBRA wage rates in contracts with two subcontractors, who then failed to pay their employees the required prevailing wages.

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US Labor Department signs agreement with Florida Department of Revenue to reduce misclassification of employees

U.S. Dept. of Labor
Wage and Hour Division 
Release Number: 15-34-NAT
Date: January 13, 2015 

WASHINGTON — Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Florida Department of Revenue today signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Under the agreement, both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement. The MOU represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification. The Florida Department of Revenue is the latest state agency to partner with the Labor Department.

In Fiscal Year 2013, WHD investigations resulted in more than $83,051,159 in back wages for more than 108,050 workers in industries, such as janitorial, food, construction, day care, hospitality and garment. WHD regularly finds large concentrations of misclassified workers in low-wage industries.

“Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Florida to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

“Working with the states is an important tool in ending misclassification,” said Wayne Kotowski, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator for the southeast. “These collaborations allow us to better coordinate compliance with both federal and state laws alike.”

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US Labor Department sues Little Rock, Arkansas, electrical contractor for failing to pay federal contract workers properly

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division

Release Number: 14-2243-DAL
January 7, 2015 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit with the Office of Administrative Law Judges against LRE Royal Electrical Contractors Inc. and its owner, George E. Smith, to recover $345,077 in back wages for 61 electrical workers. The action also seeks to prevent the company and Smith from obtaining federal contracts for three years.

The filing alleges Smith and his company, doing business as both LRE Electrical Contractors and LRE Electrical, violated the Davis-Bacon and Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Acts when they paid electrical workers less than the applicable prevailing wage rates and corresponding overtime wages for work performed as part of four government contracts.

The Wage and Hour Division’s Little Rock District Office found that LRE Electrical and Smith did not register electrical workers in approved apprenticeship programs, but classified and paid workers as apprentices. The company and Smith also failed to pay these workers wage rates included in the contracts, which are based on the work an employee actually performs.

“Government contracts specify clearly how pay and benefits must be determined. Employers are required to adhere to these rules and pay workers correctly,” said Cynthia Watson, Wage and Hour administrator in the Southwest. “Contractors know these obligations when they bid on government contracts, and when the contracts are awarded.”

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US Labor Department recovers nearly $3M in back wages for workers on federally funded construction projects in New York City

Larino Masonry Inc. and owners debarred from bidding on federal contracts 

U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 14-2057-NEW, Date: Nov. 25, 2014

NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Labor has secured $2,904,000 in back wages for laborers and mechanics who worked on federally funded construction projects in four New York City boroughs.

A federal administrative law judge approved a settlement requiring Larino Masonry Inc., based in Newark, New Jersey, to pay $1,945,000 in back wages to workers at projects in Manhattan and the Bronx for violating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. In a separate, but related case, Larino also agreed to an order to pay $959,000 to workers at projects in Brooklyn and Queens.

Larino admitted that it failed to pay its workers the legally required prevailing wage, fringe benefits and overtime, and submitted falsified certified payrolls to a contracting agency. In addition to paying back wages, Larino and its company president Juan Luis Larino and vice president Maria Larino have been barred from bidding on federal contracts for the next three years.

“Taxpayers should expect that federal contractors understand their obligations and comply with the law,” said Maria Rosado, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s New York City District Office, which investigated the federally funded projects. “When Larino Masonry or any other employer violates labor laws, they cheat their employees and gain an unfair advantage over employers who obey the law. We will hold them accountable.”

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US Labor Department signs agreement with Alabama Labor Department to reduce misclassification of employees

WASHINGTON – Officials of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Alabama Department of Labor today signed a memorandum of understanding to protect the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as something other than employees, such as independent contractors. The memorandum of understanding represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification. The Alabama Department of Labor is the latest state agency to partner with the U.S. Labor Department.

In Fiscal Year 2013, WHD investigations resulted in more than $83,051,159 in back wages for more than 108,050 workers in industries, such as janitorial, food, construction, day care, hospitality and garment. WHD regularly finds large concentrations of misclassified workers in low-wage industries.

“Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Alabama to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

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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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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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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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