Sen. Wirch’s bill takes aim at ‘wage theft’ (WI)

RICARDO TORRES
Tuesday, October 26, 2017

MADISON – Whether it’s not being paid for overtime, forcing employees to work off the clock or violating minimum wage laws, wage theft is an issue for employees across the country and some new legislation in Madison is looking to reduce the problem.

State Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, testified at a public hearing on Thursday in support of Senate Bill 371, which he hopes will have a positive impact for workers, if passed.

“The changes I am proposing are reasonable solutions that will address some of the legal loopholes that have allowed this practice to grow, level the playing field for the many business owners who play within the rules and take care of their employees,” Wirch said.

The proposed law would penalize employers who violate their workers rights starting with a $500 fine for the first violation, $750 for the second violation and $1,000 for every violation after that.

Wirch said he’s hoping to have bipartisan support for the bill and that it will be voted on before the end of the session

(Read More)

California Labor Commissioner Citation of General Contractor for Subcontractor’s Wage Theft Affirmed

SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, California Labor Commissioner’s Office
Jun 29, 2017, 17:32 ET

LOS ANGELES, June 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su issued citations of $249,879 against Irvine-based general contractor Deacon Corporation, along with its subcontractor, Lafayette-based Champion Constructions, Inc.

This is the first time that the Labor Commissioner has held a general contractor responsible for wage theft by its subcontractor by issuing citations under AB 1897 (section 2810.3 of the Labor Code), signed by Governor Brown in 2014, which took effect on January 1, 2015.

Champion, a drywall and framing contractor hired by Deacon for the Cambria Hotel construction project in El Segundo, shorted 47 workers. The Champion employees worked an average of 10 hours a day, five days a week and were unpaid for four weeks.

“This case addresses the pervasive problem of wage theft in subcontracted industries,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “Businesses at the top of the contracting chain that profit from workplace violations can no longer escape legal liability by hiding behind their subcontractors, even if they did not control the work performed or know about the violations.”

The wage theft came to light after several of Champion’s workers walked off the job on June 16, 2016, and filed wage claims at the Labor Commissioner’s Office in Long Beach for nonpayment of wages.

The Labor Commissioner’s investigation revealed that Champion paid the workers from an account with insufficient funds and then skipped several pay periods for the majority of the workers. Investigators also learned that Champion failed to pay overtime wages to many of the workers, who worked up to 2 hours overtime a day.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office last August issued citations against both Deacon and Champion totaling $279,151 in unpaid overtime and minimum wages, waiting time penalties, rest period premiums and civil penalties for work performed from May 8, 2016 to June 16, 2016. A demand letter was also issued in August for $50,466 to request payment of the contract wages, which is the difference between minimum wage and the wages promised to the workers when contracted for the job.

(Read More)

Carpenters Union takes on wage theft at downtown development

By Bill Shaner
July 13, 2017

The Carpenters Local 107 was out in force earlier this week in front of the 145 Front Street development, rallying around accusations that a subcontractor from New Jersey has systematically stiffed local carpenters on overtime hours and pay.

Dozens of union members and advocates marched in a circle across the street, banging on buckets, blowing whistles and chanting slogans like “no justice, no peace.”

At the heart of the matter are five formal U.S. Department of Labor complaints filed by local contractors against the New Jersey-based P and B Partitions.

One such complainant, Edward Vazquez, said time-and-a-half overtime pay and some overtime hours were withheld from his paychecks for about eight months. When he spoke up and attempted to organize other laborers, he was let go, he said.

“Basically, I was getting paid a check, and the rest was in cash, but I wasn’t getting that cash,” he said. “Someone was pocketing that money.”

The five workers who filed the complaint were paid for 40 hours on the books, then overtime in cash, but two hours of overtime were left out and they were straight paid, instead of the legally required time and a half, according to the union.

Vazquez, a Marlborough resident and Worcester native, said unfair treatment was extended to local carpenters and workers formally employed by the company.

“I was let go when I was talking to workers about standing up for their pay.”

He said the case against the company is a home run, and consequently got him into unionizing. After filing the complaint, he joined the Carpenters Local 107.

(Read More)

CONSTRUCTION FIRMS ORDERED TO PAY $2.4 MILLION IN BACK WAGES

Two entwined Massachusetts companies deliberately misclassified hourly workers as independent contractors

December 06, 2016

The Labor Department said today that Anderson Dos Santos, owner and president of AB Construction Group and Juliano Fernandes, general manager at Force Corporation cheated 478 construction workers out of overtime wages and employment benefits.

The Labor Department said Force prepared and controlled the payroll and payment procedures for both companies. AB Construction was formed to supply Force with labor. The pair used a combination of payroll checks and cash and check payments to pay their employees straight time when overtime pay was required and kept inadequate and inaccurate time and payroll records, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“To be cheated out of wages and denied other workplace protections by an employer who deliberately flouts the rules compounds the struggles too many middle-class Americans already face,” U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “Workers who play by the rules deserve nothing less than to be paid what they are owed.”

(Read More)

Red Light Camera Company Sued Again For Prevailing Wage Violation

Former American Traffic Solutions electrician says he was cheated out of over $75,000 in wages while working on red light cameras.

1/4/2017
Courtesy of the Newspaper.com

Another former traffic camera company employee says he has been shortchanged by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). In a new federal lawsuit, George A. Felix alleges the traffic camera vendor forced him to work more than eight hours per day without being paid overtime, and at a rate far below that required under California law.

Felix worked as an electrician for ATS in California from 2009 to 2014. He earned between $20 and $23 per hour setting up and maintaining red light cameras in various municipalities across the state. Felix does not say exactly how much money he believes he is owed, but ATS lawyers estimated the likely total to be in excess of $75,000.

“ATS failed to properly compensate [Felix] for working off-the-clock and overtime,” Richard E. Donahoo, attorney for Felix, wrote in his complaint. “[Felix] did not receive compensation for all hours worked over eight per day or forty per week at the required overtime rate.”

(Read More)

DOL obtains ‘double damages’ for intentional misclassification

Compensation Management News
August 22, 2016

An employer and its staffing company will pay $1.1 million in back wages and another $1.1 million in damages to resolve U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) findings that they intentionally misclassified workers as independent contractors.

Force Corp., a construction company, created AB Construction to provide it with much of its labor. Force Corp., however, prepared and controlled the payroll and payment procedures for both companies, DOL said in a press release.

During an investigation, the department determined that Force Corp. intentionally misclassified most of its employees to avoid paying them overtime and other benefits. In addition, it used a combination of payroll checks and cash to pay the workers straight time when they should have received overtime pay, DOL said. The department also determined that the employer kept inadequate and inaccurate time and payroll records.

(Read More)

One of the biggest crime waves in America isn’t what you think it is

Jeff Spross
August 15, 2016

In dollar terms, what group of Americans steals the most from their fellow citizens each year?

The answer might surprise you: It’s employers, many of whom are committing what’s known as wage theft. It’s not just about underpaying workers. They’re not paying workers what they’re legally owed for the labor they put in.

It takes different forms: not paying workers the federal, state, or local minimum wage; not paying them overtime; or just monkeying around with job titles to avoid regulations.

No one knows exactly how big a problem wage theft is, but in 2012 federal and state agencies recovered $933 million for victims of wage theft. By comparison, all the property taken in all the robberies of all types in 2012, solved or unsolved, amounted to a little under $341 million.

(Read More)

US LABOR DEPARTMENT RECOVERS $189K IN WAGES ON BEHALF OF 28 UNDERPAID WORKERS ON FEDERALLY FUNDED MANHATTAN CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

SJ Insulation debarred from future government contracts following joint enforcement effort with New York Attorney General

WHD News Release: 05/25/2016
Release Number: 16-0804-NEW

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $189,000 in unpaid wages and overtime for 28 carpenters and laborers who worked on the federally funded West 131st St. Cluster Project in Harlem between April 2009 and April 2010. This was the result of a joint enforcement effort with the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in which the two agencies shared information and worked collaboratively on behalf of workers in New York. The attorney general’s investigation continues.

“Contractors on federally funded construction projects commit to paying their workers the required wages and fringe benefits when they bid these contracts. When, as in this case, they cheat their workers, they are also cheating the taxpayers who ultimately fund these jobs,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Mark Watson, Jr. “As the resolution of this case demonstrates, we will not tolerate such illegal behavior.”

“We thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for working jointly with us during the prosecution of this case. We have the mutual goals of ensuring that employees in our jurisdictions are paid and treated properly and employers who underpay their workers do not secure an unfair advantage over law-abiding employers,” said Jeffrey S. Rogoff, the department’s regional solicitor in New York.

(Read More)

ELMWOOD PARK, ILLINOIS, MASONRY COMPANY ORDERED TO PAY MORE THAN $104K IN BACK WAGES, DAMAGES TO 20 WORKERS MISCLASSIFIED AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

WHD News Release: 05/19/2016
Release Number: 16-0876-CHI

Type of Action: Fair Labor Standards Act consent judgment

Defendant(s): Expertize Masonry Inc., Pawel Walaszek

Investigation Findings: An investigation conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Elmwood Park, Illinois-based Expertize Masonry Inc., and Walaszek violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions when they misclassified employees working as laborers, masonry workers, crew leaders and foreman on masonry jobs in the Chicago area as independent contractors.

Investigators found the misclassification resulted in workers receiving less than the legally required federal minimum wage, and led to the employer’s failure to pay the workers overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Additionally, the employer failed to maintain accurate time records as required by the FLSA.

(Read More)

AG Healey Assesses More Than $326,000 in Restitution and Penalties Against Construction Companies in First Quarter of 2016

Part of an Ongoing Effort by the AG’s Office to Address Wage Theft in the Industry

MAURA HEALEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL

For Immediate Release – April 27, 2016

BOSTON – As part of an ongoing effort to address wage theft in the construction industry, Attorney General Maura Healey has issued 29 civil citations against construction companies from January 2016 through March 2016, an increase from the previous two quarters. Restitution for employees of the various employers totaled nearly $260,000 and the companies were fined a total of more than $68,000.

“Wage theft is a real issue in Massachusetts, including in the construction industry where dishonest companies continue to cheat their employees,” AG Healey said. “Our office is working to level the playing field so that workers are paid fairly and contractors who follow the rules are not at a disadvantage.”

Violations in these cases included the failure to pay proper wages, failure to pay overtime, retaliation and failure to furnish records for inspection. For work performed on public construction projects in the state, the violations included the failure to pay the prevailing wage, failure to submit true and accurate certified payroll records, and failure to register and pay apprentices appropriately.

(Read More)