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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Wage Theft – How companies steal from our employees and communities

ARTICLE |  | BY CAMILLA MORTENSEN

 

Ben Basom of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters gives the example of a worker who came forward and started talking to the union about the Portland company that he was working for and the scams he was seeing. Basom says the employee’s boss found out “and the next time we saw him, his arm was in a cast and he was all bruised up.”

The worker said, “This guy knows where my family is in Mexico.”

From July 2012 to June 2013, Oregon workers filed claims for more than $3 million in unpaid wages with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Juan Carlos Ordonez of the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), which analyzed BOLI’s data on the claims, says that’s “just the tip of the iceberg” because workers fear retaliation if they complain about their missing wages, or they simply don’t know how or where to file a complaint. BOLI is the agency that investigates and enforces Oregon’s labor laws.

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