- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Wednesday that her office cited 66 construction companies with wage theft violations in 2018 and levied $2.7 million in total penalties, which includes almost $1.5 million in restitution and more than $1.2 million in fines.
- Violations across both private and public work included paying improper wages, prevailing wages and overtime; submitting inaccurate certified payroll records; retaliation against workers asserting wage violations; failure to furnish records for inspection; and failure to register and pay apprentices correctly.
- One of Healey’s biggest wage violation assessments was $585,000 for restitution and fines against ERA Equipment LLC and its owners for not paying workers in a timely manner, failure to pay prevailing wage and overtime; failure to provide workers with proper pay stubs; and inadequate recordkeeping.
“Workers in the construction industry are particularly vulnerable to wage theft from dishonest contractors who cheat their workers,” Healey said. “As Massachusetts undergoes a historic construction boom, my office will continue to fight for exploited workers and ensure they are paid the wages they earn.”
Across the country, news of wage violations against construction industry companies is becoming more common as state authorities actively pursue charges. While cheating a worker out of pay is an obvious violation, contractors who don’t take the time to perform basic recordkeeping functions or who don’t pay their employees on time can be cited and fined as well.
This week, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced the results of its investigation against a subcontractor on the Highway 99 tunnel project in Seattle, finding that Glacier Northwest underpaid 46 workers on that job by a collective $370,600.
L&I said the project’s general contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), hired Glacier under a $28 million contract to dispose of dirt and other debris generated by tunneling operations. The agency said Glacier did not pay workers at its disposal site the prevailing wage, although it was required to do so on the state-funded project. Glacier, L&I said, paid the employees in question an hourly wage of $27.69 – $31.34 but should have paid them $49.48. Glacier allegedly owes individual workers amounts ranging from $90 to more than $30,500.
Both Glacier and STP have appealed L&I’s citation.
California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is also going after contractors who don’t abide by law when paying their workers. The agency recently cited specialty contractor RDV Construction for $12 million of wage theft violations involving more than 1,000 employees.
A large chunk of the nearly $12 million payout — $5.4 million — is for failing to pay employees in a timely manner. There was also $1.6 million in minimum wage violations, $1.7 million for failing to provide breaks, and half a million dollars in lost overtime pay.