Labor Commissioner’s Office Cites Oakland Construction Company Over $3.5 Million for Wage Theft Violations (CA)

NEWS PROVIDED BY
California Department of Industrial Relations
Jul 25, 2017, 15:43 ET

OAKLAND, Calif., July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Labor Commissioner’s Office cited an Oakland contractor more than $3.5 million in wages and penalties for multiple wage theft and labor law violations. Attic Pros is ordered to pay $2,109,480 in wages, liquidated damages and waiting time penalties for 119 workers who were misclassified as independent contractors, and $1,481,600 for civil penalties.

“This is an egregious case of wage theft, with workers misclassified and denied a just day’s pay,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “My office enforces California’s labor laws to stop employers willing to cheat employees of their pay as a means to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office launched its investigation of the company and its owner, Leonid Molchanov, after receiving a Private Attorneys General Act claim. Investigators found that Attic Pros’ employees worked 10-14 hours per day up to six days a week, and were paid a daily rate regardless of the actual number of hours worked-putting their earnings below minimum wage.

Su ordered Attic Pros to pay $191,400 in unpaid minimum wages, $321,330 in unpaid overtime wages, $191,400 in liquidated damages on unpaid minimum wages, $1,405,350 in waiting time penalties, and $1,481,600 in civil penalties for minimum and overtime wage violations, wage statement violations and employee misclassification. The citations were issued for violations that occurred during the 32-month period from July 2014 to March 2017.

When workers are paid less than minimum wage, they are entitled to liquidated damages that equal the amount of underpaid wages plus interest. Waiting time penalties are imposed when the employer fails to provide workers their final paycheck after separation. This penalty is calculated by taking the employee’s daily rate of pay and multiplying it by the number of days the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days. The civil penalties collected will be transferred to the State’s General Fund as required by law.

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Wilmington-Based Electrical Company Cited $100K+ (DE)

The AG’s Office zeroed in on the company, which dissolved in 2016.

 

By Mike Carraggi (Patch National Staff)
Updated August 9, 2017 12:31 am ET

WILMINGTON, MA – A Wilmington-based electrical company was cited more than $100,000 in restitution and penalties for not properly paying employees working to repair streetlights in Worcester, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. …

Wilmington Wiring Corporation and owner John Garrett had three civil citations issued against it for failure to pay the prevailing wage, failure to furnish payroll records, and failure to furnish certified payroll records to the AG’s Office.

“Prevailing wage laws ensure workers are paid a real, living wage, and level the playing field for companies that play by the rules,” said Healey. “Workers, honest employers, and taxpayers lose when companies fail to follow wage and hour laws.”

WWC was based in Wilmington until it dissolved in May 2016. The AG’s Office began investigating the company in January of that year after an employee filed a complaint alleging he was not paid the prevailing wage rate for five years of work on a public project repairing streetlights in Worcester, the AG’s Office said. An investigation revealed six employees were not paid proper prevailing wage for the public works project; only WWC union employees were. WWC also then ignored the AG’s Fair Labor Divison’s payroll demands, the AG’s Office said.

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Wage theft demands legislative response, advocates say

June 21, 2017
By Katie Lannan and Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Supporters of legislation aimed at preventing wage theft painted a picture of an urgent need for action on Tuesday, telling lawmakers that Massachusetts workers across all industries are denied hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

A bill (S 999/H 1033) filed by Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz seeks to prevent wage law violations by allowing the issuance of stop-work orders until violations are corrected and giving Attorney General Maura Healey’s office the power to bring wage theft cases to court for civil damages.

“We’ve seen people not get paid for months on end,” Steve Joyce of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters told the Labor and Workforce Development Committee. “They’re selling what they have in order to live. That’s just wrong, and you have the opportunity to change this by passing this bill.”

Eleven months into the 2017 fiscal year, Healey’s office has received 16,000 calls to its wage theft hotline, or about 70 per day, said Cynthia Mark, the chief of Healey’s Fair Labor Division. More than 5,000 complaints have been made to the office, and the division is on track to resolve nearly 600 cases through citation or settlement. It has ordered employers to pay almost $5 million in restitution in and more than $2 million in penalties to the state’s general fund.

The bill is opposed by business groups, 16 of which signed on to a letter to the committee arguing that the solution to wage theft is not in a new law “but rather in enhanced enforcement efforts and additional funding for the Attorney General’s office to enable her staff to use the tools currently in place.”

“This bill, in its current form, will unfairly punish legitimate and law-abiding companies in all industries across Massachusetts who contract with other businesses for services, but have no control over the operations of those independent businesses,” said the letter, signed by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP Massachusetts, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and other groups. “If a company violates the current laws, the company in violation should be penalized through existing statutes and regulations, which ensure fair and timely payment of wages.”

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Massachusetts settles with three construction companies that allegedly violated wage laws

by Mark Iandolo |
May 23, 2017, 8:52am

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced May 15 that three construction companies in the state will pay more than $600,000 for allegations of failing to pay the proper prevailing wage rate to employees for work performed on public projects.

“Our prevailing wage laws ensure a level playing field for contractors who perform work for public entities, including municipalities, schools, libraries and housing authorities,” Healey said. “When contractors skirt these laws, they not only cheat employees out of their wages, they undermine the competitive business environment of Massachusetts.”

The citations came against Ronan Jarvis, former owner of MC Starr Companies Inc., DANCO Management Inc. and its owner Daniel Tremblay, and R&A Drywall LLC and owner Allan S. Vitale.

Massachusetts state law mandates that contractors and subcontractors pay employees a special minimum wage determined by the state for any work done on public construction projects.

The Jarvis and R&A Drywall cases are being handled by assistant attorney general Erik Bennett and investigator Tom Lam, both of the department’s Fair Labor Division. Assistant attorney general Barbara Dillon DeSouza and inspector Brian Davies, both of the Fair Labor Division, are handling the DANCO case.

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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.

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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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Construction Booming In Texas, But Many Workers Pay Dearly

Just how cheap is the cheap labor in Texas? Sometimes, it’s free. Guillermo Perez, 41, is undocumented and has been working commercial construction jobs in Austin for 13 years.

“[The employer] said he didn’t have the money to pay me and he owed me $1,200,” Perez says of one job. “I told him that I’m going to the Texas Workforce Commission, which I did. Then after that, he came back two weeks later and paid me.”

$137,000 in Back Wages Recovered for 31 Employees on Ohio Project Following USDOL Investigation

BBC Foundation & Flatwork LLC has paid $137,705 in back wages to 31 employees of the Carleton concrete company for performing work on a federal transit project in Toledo.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the contractor violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.

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Seven Contractors Fined for Prevailing Wage Violations

The Labor Commission reported that the prime contractor, Valley Vanguard, is jointly and severally liable for all assessments issued against the six subcontractors.

“Valley Vanguard, as the prime contractor for the highway expansion project, is responsible for ensuring that all workers performing construction work on a public works project are paid the correct prevailing wage rates,” Su said.