- The plaintiffs in a wage violation lawsuit against Texas contractor Zachry Construction Corp. and Odebrecht Construction on Friday requested conditional class certification from the Houston division of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. If granted, attorneys for the plaintiffs would be able to notify current and former employees about the lawsuit and their right to opt in.
- Six individuals who worked for the companies on the SH 99 Grand Parkway project in the Houston area first filed the lawsuit in April, alleging that Zachry and Odebrecht intentionally did not pay them overtime wage rates for work performed beyond 40 hours a week and required them to record a maximum of eight hours worked per day no matter how many hours they actually put in. The plaintiffs claim that the companies classified them as "working foremen" and paid them a fixed rate even though their work consisted of non-supervisory tasks like pouring concrete, driving concrete tasks and operating other equipment. When they were paid for work beyond 40 hours per week, it was at the standard "straight time" wage rate, the lawsuit alleges.
- This is the third action alleging wage violations brought against Zachry and Odebrecht as joint defendants. Earlier suits were filed in 2015 and 2016, according to available court records. The 2016 case was dismissed so that the parties could resolve the dispute in binding arbitration, and the 2015 case was dismissed with prejudice after the parties agreed to a settlement.
Authorities are cracking down on companies who fail to pay overtime and commit other acts of "wage theft."
Earlier this month, the Brooklyn (New York) District Attorney's office announced that Brooklyn-based contractor The Urban Group pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny for paying immigrant workers far less than the required prevailing wage rate for work performed at New York City schools. The company falsely certified to the city that it paid workers the correct amounts but underpaid 21 workers by more than $303,000. The company has been debarred from performing public work in New York state as a general contractor or subcontractor for five years and made full restitution to the affected employees.
In May, the Manhattan DA's office charged city contractor Parkside Construction for underpaying employees by $1.7 million and underreporting $42 million in wages to the New York State Insurance Fund to get out of paying $7.8 million in workers' compensation insurance premiums it owed. The plan left more than 500 employees without full compensation for the work they performed.