Bonney Lake contractor fined for underpaying workers on public school projects (WA)

by KOMO Staff
Tuesday, October 10th 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Bonney Lake contractor was fined $218,000 and ordered to pay out $210,000 in back wages after an investigation found it shorted employees for work on 10 public school construction projects, the state Department of Labor & Industries reports.

The company, I&C Northwest of Bonney Lake, and owner Jim Lingnaw, were cited for the unpaid regular wages and overtime, and for false reporting. The company owes also faces a prohibition from bidding on any public works projects.

The back pay was owed to nine who worked for I&C Northwest on the public school projects.

Jim Christensen, prevailing wage program manager for L&I, said the citations are based on the contractor’s continued violations of state law after the agency educated the firm on requirements for public contracts. The agency warned Lingnaw in January 2016 about receiving fines and disbarment after L&I uncovered the same violations on five other projects.

Investigations involving the company go back to at least 2014, said L&I spokesman Matthew Erlich.

“This case represents examples of repeated violations of the law,” said Christensen, who has more than a decade of experience handling prevailing wage issues. “Our investigation showed I&C falsified pay documents and shorted the workers on each project. This goes beyond a simple, honest mistake.”

(Read More)

Washington Company Cited for Shorting Construction Workers on Project (WA)

“Integrity vastly underpaid its employees for the work they did,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “It’s important that agencies and non-profits understand that using public money on a project means it’s covered under prevailing wage.”

Aug 28, 2017
Occupational Health & Safety

A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries found that six construction workers employed by Integrity Construction LLC were shorted more than $155,000 in wages for work on a Belfair senior center and are owed about $25,000 each for wood framing at the site, the Belfair Hospitality, Unity, and Belonging (HUB) Senior Center. Their employer, Integrity Construction LLC, was on the project from May to August 2015. L&I recently notified the company of the violation.

“Integrity vastly underpaid its employees for the work they did,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “By making sure contractors pay their workers fairly, we are creating a level playing field for firms in the construction industry.”

The investigation found the Tacoma company owes $156,692.48 in wages and more than $30,000 in fines and penalties. Integrity did not appeal the violation and is barred from bidding on future public works projects until that money is paid. The Belfair project received $1.86 million from the state’s capital budget, which meant Integrity was required to follow the state’s prevailing wage law. L&I enforces the law.

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GOVERNOR SIGNS AG BILL BLOCKING WAGE CHEATS FROM RECEIVING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 8 2017

OLYMPIA – The governor today signed into law Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bipartisan legislation prohibiting businesses that have willfully violated state wage theft laws from being awarded government contracts.

Senate Bill 5301 bars companies from receiving both state and local contracts if a judge determines they willfully violated state wage theft laws. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Auburn, passed the Senate overwhelmingly in February by 46-3 vote. It passed the House by a 63-33 margin in April. The companion measure, House Bill 1936, was sponsored by Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila.

“We need to send a message that the state will not do business with those who cheat hard-working Washingtonians,” Ferguson said. “Government contracts – and taxpayer dollars – should only go to companies that play by the rules.”

The Washington state government spends more than $1 billion annually to buy goods and services – and the state spends billions more on public works contracts – but currently, companies that receive contracts from state and local governments are not always required to demonstrate compliance with wage laws.

“The state should not be supporting businesses that are taking hard-earned dollars from the state’s workers,” said Sen. Miloscia, chair of the Senate State Government Committee. “This change will affirm the state’s commitment to protecting workers and reward businesses who respect the law and take care of their employees.”

“We must stand up in Olympia and say, ‘You will not profit from cheating workers,’ ” Rep. Hudgins said. “This simple change will provide an important incentive for companies to follow the law.”

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L&I investigation results in $66,500 in back pay for 28 workers

August 19, 2016
For media information: Matthew Erlich, Public Affairs, Matthew.Erlich@lni.wa.gov, 360-902-6508.

 

Tumwater – A state investigation into a company that closed before paying employees everything they were owed on two public projects has resulted in 28 workers receiving more than $66,500 in back pay.

Eltech Electric Inc. of Seattle abruptly ceased work on the projects at the end of September 2015. Complaints filed with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries led to an investigation that cleared the way for the workers to be paid.

The workers were involved in two public projects: construction of the Green River Community College student life center in Auburn, and repair work on the state ferry M/V Kaleetan.

The 65,000-square-foot Mel Lindbloom Student Union building opened in February. Prime contractor Walsh Construction required its subcontractors, including Eltech Electric, to have a bond. L&I was able to get money from that bond for the workers who were not fully paid when Eltech closed unexpectedly.

(Read More)

WAGE STEALERS WATCH OUT: Seattle Police join forces with Labor Dept. to catch wage thiefs

April 04, 2015

 

(SEATTLE, WA.) — The City of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division have agreed formally to share information and coordinate enforcement efforts to combat wage theft, a major problem across the U.S. and an even bigger problem in low-wage industries.

“A Memorandum of Understanding – the first signed by the Wage and Hour Division with a city in its western region – aims to boost the Seattle Police Department’s ability to investigate alleged wage theft cases and, when warranted, forward them for review by the City Attorney’s Office,” according to a Seattle Police statement.

In 2011 the City Council made wage theft – the intentional failure to pay or underpay an employee for work – a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft, particularly from low wage legal or illegal immigrant workers, is common in the United States, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

Seattle Minimum Wage and Wage Theft Ordinances Take Effect April 1, 2015

4/1/2015 by Portia Moore, Paula Simon

 

 

Two significant wage-related ordinances take effect on April 1, 2015, impacting all employers with employees who work in Seattle, whether regularly or occasionally.

The Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance: Minimum wages rise for all employees who perform at least two hours of work in Seattle in a two-week pay period. The Ordinance sets forth additional record-keeping and notice posting requirements, along with provisions on joint employers and integrated enterprises. The city’s new Office of Labor Standards (OLS), which is part of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), has just released the final administrative rules that guide how the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance is interpreted and enforced, available here, along with an extensive FAQ sheet, available here.

The Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance: Although the City of Seattle originally passed a Wage Theft Ordinance in 2011 (amending SMC 12A.08.060), the sole complaint mechanism provided by the 2011 law involved the filing of a criminal complaint to law enforcement. Starting Wednesday, April 1, 2015, a new administrative process will allow employees to file wage theft charges with the OLS.

Seattle’s New Wage Theft Ordinance Imposes Notice Requirements and Civil Penalties

4/16/2015 by Breanna M. Sheetz, Daniel L. Thieme and James Zissler

 

Effective April 1, 2015, a new Wage Theft Ordinance imposes specific wage and tip notice requirements on employers in the City of Seattle.1  The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is granted power to investigate complaints, and employers who violate the Ordinance are subject to orders to pay wages and tips, as well as civil penalties.

What Employers Should Do Immediately to Comply with this Ordinance

Following are the immediate steps that employers should take if they have non-exempt employees2 working in Seattle:

1. Provide immediate notice of the wage theft law to Seattle employees.

Employers must provide notice of employees’ rights under this law in writing (or electronically, as noted below). The SOCR has issued a poster that includes the required information about the new wage theft law, as well as information about Seattle’s new minimum wage law.  The poster is available in English (http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CivilRights/mwo-poster-english.pdf) and Spanish (http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CivilRights/mwo-poster-spanish.pdf).  In lieu of displaying the poster, employers can comply with this requirement by reprinting the information in a handbook, or duplicating the poster in another format such as a letter or online system that is accessible by employees.

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Report: Seattle Needs Community Groups To Help Enforce New $15 Minimum Wage

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2014

Seattle, WA – Seattle made history by becoming first city in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage, but it will need to strengthen its labor standards enforcement to ensure that workers get the raise due to them-and community groups should play a key role in that effort, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

“We don’t have a $15 minimum wage if we don’t enforce a $15 minimum wage,” said Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project and the report’s co-author. “Educating the employer community is one key to compliance, but education isn’t enough. A robust wage enforcement system needs strong partnerships with local community organizations-groups that are trusted by workers who might not be willing to file complaints directly with the city.”

(Read Full Press Release Here)

(PDF of Report)

L&I settles $200,000 claim against Whatcom County Jail contractor

October 2, 2014

Bellingham – A contractor renovating the Whatcom County Jail has paid nearly $200,000 in back wages owed to 13 workers on the project.

Sierra Detention Systems, of Brighton, Colo., paid the money following a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigation, which was spurred by a January worker complaint. The company paid lower apprenticeship wages to electricians.

“We don’t know whether the company’s intent was to avoid paying the higher journeyman wage,” said Jim Christensen, Prevailing Wage Program manager for the agency, who noted this was a first-time offense for the firm. “In this case, the employees were doing the work of electricians and were not part of any state-registered apprenticeship program.”

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City dinged on state audit for work with federal grant

By Cecilia Garza,  Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer 

Oct 9, 2014 at 1:23PM

According to a recent review by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, the city of Bainbridge Island is not meeting wage requirements set by one of its federal grant programs.

For the most part, the city complied with state laws and its own policies, the report said.

The audit, however, found that Bainbridge did not quite meet the requirements set by a federal grant for highway planning and construction.

The city’s practices “were inadequate to ensure compliance with federal Davis-Bacon Act (prevailing wage) requirements,” the report said.

The Davis-Bacon Act relates to contractors and subcontractors performing federally-funded projects. It requires that laborers employed under the contract be paid no less than the local prevailing wage and fringe benefits that is paid for similar projects in the area.

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