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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US Labor Department files suit against Northwest Title Agency to recover $230,688 in unpaid wages and benefits for 10 employees on HUD project

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has determined that White Bear Lake-based Northwest Title Agency Inc. failed to pay $230,688 in prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits to 10 workers, in violation of the Service Contract Act. The employees worked on real estate closings for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-owned projects in Minnesota.

“Contractors that do business with the federal government have an obligation to pay their employees the required contractual rates and benefits,” said Theresa Walls, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Minneapolis. “When employers fail to do so, the department will not hesitate to pursue legal action, including debarment, to ensure employees working on federally funded projects are properly paid.”

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US Labor Department investigations result in more than $415,000 in back wages for workers on Detroit Palmer Park Square HUD project

DETROIT — U.S. Department of Labor investigations have resulted in over $415,000 in back wages for more than 90 employees performing construction work on the federally funded Palmer Park Square affordable housing in Detroit. The investigations, conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, were part of a multiyear strategic enforcement initiative aimed at combating widespread labor violations on federally funded construction projects in the Detroit area, such as affordable housing construction projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The investigations found that Malino Construction and several project subcontractors violated provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The companies failed to pay prevailing wages, fringe benefits and overtime to construction workers on the project, failed to keep accurate time and payroll records for employees, and provided falsified, certified payroll records to the government.

Due to the extent and willful nature of the violations, Detroit-based Malino Construction, the prime contractor on the project, has been debarred from bidding on federal contracts for up to three years

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Construction Company Owner Sentenced for Fraud Conspiracy in Connection with Renovation of McCormack Federal Building

Construction company owner sentenced for fraud conspiracy in connection with the renovation of the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse in Boston.

Wael Isreb, 55, of Wrentham, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr., to four years of probation, including 18 months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $164,627 in restitution. In March 2014, Isreb and his co-defendant, Aluisio Dasilva, 67, of Hudson, Mass., each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and false statements.

Isreb was the owner of Taunton Forms, a now-defunct concrete construction company based in Lakeville, Mass. In September 2006, the General Services Administration retained Suffolk Construction Company as the general contractor to renovate the McCormack Building. Suffolk Construction, in turn, retained Taunton Forms as a subcontractor to perform certain concrete work on that project. Suffolk Construction ultimately paid Taunton Forms in excess of $1 million for its work.

Federal law requires that contractors on federal projects over $2,000 pay workers a prevailing wage, and that they submit weekly reports certifying the wages they paid their employees. Beginning in about December 2007, however, Isreb conspired with Dasilva and others to pay Taunton Forms workers less than the prevailing wage while certifying to Suffolk Construction, the GSA, and the United States Department of Labor (DOL) that Taunton Forms was, in fact, paying the prevailing wage.

States That Raised Minimum Wage See Faster Job Growth, Report Says

New data released by the Department of Labor suggests that raising the minimum wage in some states might have spurred job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.

In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, would cost 500,000 jobs.

The Associated Press writes:

“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent. Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states – Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – approved legislation mandating the increases.”

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More than $1.6M in Unpaid Overtime for 1,543 Workers in the Gulf Coast Recovered by US Labor Department

HOUMA, La. – B & D Contracting Inc., a labor recruiting and staffing agency that caters to oil field services and maritime fabrication facilities along the Gulf Coast, has agreed to pay $1,660,438 in back wages to 1,543 current and former employees. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the company engaged in improper pay and record-keeping practices that resulted in employees being denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employees were assigned to client work sites throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to work as welders, pipe fitters and shipfitters.

Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division’s New Orleans District Office found the company mischaracterized certain wages as per diem payments and impermissibly excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation.

“Temporary staffing agencies serve valuable and legitimate business needs in today’s economy,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, “But employers may not manipulate these arrangements and use evasive pay practices to avoid paying workers their rightful wages.”

“The labor violations we found in this case are not unique to B & D Contracting Inc.,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the division in the Southwest. “We are increasingly finding the use of per diem schemes as a means of decreasing overtime pay and tax obligations in the staffing and support services industry in this region. The resolution of this case demonstrates our continued focus on combating such labor violations in order to improve compliance in this industry.”

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Appalachian Oilfield Services Agrees to Pay $129,802 in Overtime Back Wages to 29 Workers at Ohio Oil Fracking Sites

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Appalachian Oilfield Services LLC has agreed to pay 25 heavy equipment operators $129,802 in overtime back wages after an investigation by the U.S.

Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the company was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. At eastern Ohio drilling locations, the workers provided cleanup services and hauled away muck ejected from wells in the oil fracking process.

“Companies that underpay their employees also undercut employers who obey the law and pay their workers lawfully required wages,” said George Victory, the Wage and Hour Division’s director in Columbus. “Failing to compensate employees properly for all hours worked is unacceptable. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring workers receive the pay they have rightfully earned.”

An investigation conducted by the division’s Columbus District Office found that equipment operators were paid a flat daily rate for a 12-hour shift. When they worked in excess of 12 hours, they were paid an hourly rate. No overtime compensation was provided for hours worked in excess of 40 hours, in violation of the FLSA.

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U.S. Increases Scrutiny of Employee-Stock-Ownership Plans

The federal government is stepping up scrutiny of how U.S. companies are valued for employee-stock-ownership plans, a vital source of retirement savings for millions of workers.

Some owners are selling stakes in their companies to employee-stock-ownership plans at inflated prices, the government says, jeopardizing those savings.

The Labor Department is the plaintiff in 15 lawsuits related to employee-stock-ownership plans, with “virtually all” the cases alleging shoddy estimates of what a company’s shares are worth, said Timothy Hauser, a deputy assistant secretary at the agency’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

“Valuation is the first, second, third and fourth problem,” Mr. Hauser said. In March, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told lawmakers that some appraisals “have been deliberately inflated,” comparing them to real-estate-bubble-era home appraisals that “masterfully came in at what you needed.”

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Nashville Drywall Firm To Pay State’s Largest Worker Misclassification Fine

A $300,000 fine for misclassifying construction workers may be having a deterrent effect, according to officials with the Tennessee Department of Labor. The penalty was the largest to-date in a statewide crackdown on labeling full-time employees as contract workers.

TJ Drywall of Nashville was doing $2 million a year in business but only paying five percent of what regulators say they should have been in workers comp and unemployment insurance premiums.

The Labor Department’s Scott Yarbrough says the practice remains rampant in the construction industry.

“It upsets me when somebody who is following the rules – paying their insurance, paying their taxes like they’re supposed to. And they’re trying to compete with people who aren’t withholding any of that or paying for any of the benefits for somebody who is in fact an employee.”

Nearly $5M in Back Wages for Approximately 500 Workers at Federally-Assisted Project in New York Secured by US Labor Department

NEW YORK – MDG Design & Construction LLC has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor that resolves wage violations at the federally-assisted Grand Street Guild construction project in New York City’s Lower East Side. MDG and other respondents will pay $3.8 million in back wages and fringe benefits to about 200 of MDG’s subcontractors’ construction workers. Previous, separate investigations led to the repayment of more than $1.1 million in back wages to approximately 300 laborers and mechanics who worked for MDG’s subcontractors on the Lower East Side project.

MDG was the general contractor for the Grand Street Guild project, which involved the refurbishment and rehabilitation of three 26-story apartment towers. The department’s Wage and Hour Division found numerous Davis-Bacon and Related Acts violations by MDG subcontractors on the project, including failure to pay required prevailing wages and submitting inaccurate or falsified payroll records to the government.

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