AG: Company failed to pay correct wages at Bresnahan, other public works jobs

Bresnahan School one of public works projects involved

Staff Reports
July 13, 2017

NEWBURYPORT – A New Hampshire construction company was fined more than $160,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to properly pay employees on nine public works projects, including Bresnahan Elementary School, the attorney general said Wednesday.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office issued three citations against Northeast Partition Specialties Inc. and owner Fredrick Breth for their failure to pay the prevailing wage, pay overtime and submit accurate certified payroll records for the projects done in 2014-15.

“Companies that do business in Massachusetts must play by the rules,” Healey said. “Prevailing wage laws are intended to ensure a level playing field for companies and provide a real, living wage to workers.”

Northeast is a small, privately held corporation in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Attorney General’s Office began an investigation of the company after the Fair Labor Division received a complaint from a former employee claiming he was not paid the prevailing wage rate for two public works projects between April 2015 and September 2015.

The investigation found that Northeast failed to pay the proper prevailing wage rate to 27 employees for these public works projects: Staff Sergeant James J. Hill School, Revere; Bresnahan Elementary School, Newburyport; the Acushnet police facility; the Chelmsford Fire Department; Dracut Town Hall; the Sudbury Police Department; Park Avenue Elementary, Webster; West Bridgewater Middle-Senior High School; and the Westborough Fire Department.

Under the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law, contractors and subcontractors working on public projects must pay their employees a special minimum wage, which is based on the occupational classification for the type of work the employees perform.

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Editorial: State right to address wage theft

By Jeff Stahla 
POSTED:   01/24/2015 11:42:50 PM MST


When the Wage Protection Act went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, it gave the state of Colorado additional tools and authority to address the problem of wage theft.

The act requires employers to keep payroll records for up to three years and gives the Colorado Department of Labor the authority “to mediate situations that are just misunderstandings, investigate when there’s actual wrongdoing, and bring justice,” Rep. Jonathan Singer, a co-sponsor of the act, told the Associated Press.

That includes possible fines against employers who fail to respond to complaints and who are found to have illegally withheld wages from employees who earned them.

The number of state employees involved in investigations is increasing from four to nine, as part of the new law.

The need is clear. The state department of labor has been receiving an average of 5,000 complaints per year, and it has recovered about $1 million in unpaid wages to date, according to a recent I-News report.

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DIR Launches Roofing Compliance Working Group

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) today officially launches the Roofing Compliance Working Group to enforce safety and labor law standards in this key industry in California.

The Roofing Compliance Working Group (RCWG) is an arm of the Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF), a multi-agency effort to combat the underground economy and improve the state’s business environment. RCWG is a collaboration of state and local agencies as well as labor and management. The group’s objectives include rapid response to complaints of workplace health and safety hazards in the roofing industry, as well as investigation of complaints related to payroll, misclassification and workers’ compensation issues.

“The roofing industry by nature comes with inherent risks, and we want to improve workplace safety for workers and help business owners who play by the rules to thrive,” said DIR Director Christine Baker.

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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Demolition Company Operators for Scheme to Underpay Employees by More Than $650,000 in Violation of Federal Prevailing Wage Law

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rose Gill Hearn, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), Robert Panella, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations (“DOL-OIG”), and Vanessa Jones-Allen, the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Area Office of Criminal Enforcement for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced the filing of a four-count criminal Complaint charging JOVER NARANJO, the owner and president of Enviro & Demo Masters, Inc. (“Enviro”), and his father, LUPERIO NARANJO, SR., a foreman for Enviro, for allegedly perpetrating a scheme to underpay employees in violation of the federal prevailing wage law.

DOL-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Panella said: “Today’s charges are the result of our commitment to investigate those who would allegedly falsify payroll records to avoid paying their workers the required prevailing wage. The Office of Inspector General will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to this end.”

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NELP Issue Brief – The Politics of Wage Suppression

The Politics of Wage Suppression: Inside ALEC’s Legislative Campaign Against Low-Paid Workers

Main Findings:

• ALEC’s “model legislation” includes multiple proposals to weaken or repeal wage standards that protect the earnings of low-­‐paid workers. These proposals include measures to repeal state minimum wage laws, reduce minimum wage rates for youth and tipped workers, weaken overtime compensation policies, and block local governments from establishing living wage ordinances.

• Since January 2011, legislators from 31 states have introduced 105 bills that aim to suppress the wages of low-­‐paid workers by repealing or weakening core wage standards at the state or local level. 67 of these 105 bills were directly sponsored or co-­‐sponsored by ALEC-­‐affiliated legislators from 25 states.

• As conservative majorities assume power in 31 statehouses this year – including 15 statehouses under the control of veto-­‐proof supermajorities – ALEC’s wage suppression agenda poses a threat to the earnings and economic security of low-­‐paid workers across the country.

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Prevailing Wage Whistleblower Protection Bill Vetoed by New Mexico’s Governor

A bill that sought to protect the identities of those who blew the whistle on employers who did not pay the public works minimum wage was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday.

“The bill’s overly broad mandate to protect the identity of prevailing wage complainants ignores the realities of prevailing wage investigation and prosecution,” Martinez said in her veto message.

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