First Reported Conviction Under Texas’ New Wage Theft Law

by Scott Braddock on Wed, 09/16/2015 – 8:30am


The first reported conviction of a contractor guilty of wage theft was handed down by a jury in El Paso this past week. The case against the employer was pursued under a law passed in 2011 by a local lawmaker who has made stamping out wage theft one of his personal causes.

The victim, Esteban Rangel, said he was owed $2,295 by the owner of Sun City Roofing, John Najera. Najera did not have any prior convictions, which is why the 180 day jail sentence announced in court was reduced to three months of probation. In addition, Najera must pay a fine of $5,000 and Rangel will receive $2,295 in restitution.

The lawmaker who pushed for passage of the state’s new wage theft law, Sen. Jose Rodríguez, said the conviction is an important step forward and will hopefully send a message to other unethical business owners. The bill he successfully championed in 2011 allows for criminal prosecution for wage theft if – with the intent to avoid payment – an employer fails to make full payment after receiving notice.

“This conviction is a landmark in the fight against wage theft,” Rodríguez said. “Unscrupulous employers who intentionally steal from employees now know there are real consequences for robbing workers of the pay that they’re owed,” said the El Paso Democrat.

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El Paso City Council: Contractor’s payment on hold due to violations

By Aileen B. Flores / El Paso Times
POSTED:   12/09/2014 10:29:06 PM MST

El Paso City Council on Tuesday took action against companies that allegedly underpaid employees in the construction of Sun Metro’s bus operations and maintenance facility on the East Side.

Council voted unanimously to withhold $35,400 in payment to the contractor, Urban Associates, until an investigation is complete into one of the subcontractors, Beltran Electrical Contractors, Inc. The investigation regards possible violations of prevailing wage rates.

The contractor has 15 days to resolve the issue. If the problem is not resolved between the subcontractor and the workers, then the dispute must be submitted to arbitration, city documents show. Council also approved to report the case to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Urban Associates was awarded a $27.4 million contract in 2012. The company then subcontracted Beltran.

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