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May
2013
30

MA AG: M&J Painting Failed to Pay Over $2 Million in Wages, Falsified Documents to Cover It Up

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M&J Painting, Inc., an Ohio based painting company, is charged with failing to pay its workers over $2 million in wages.  While working on the $13 million Braga Bridge project in Somerset, Mass., the company falsified paperwork in an attempt to trick the Massachusetts Department of Labor into thinking they had been properly paying prevailing wages and overtime wages.  

Now, the company is facing charges in Suffolk Superior Court of engaging in unfair competition and violating the Massachusetts False Claims Act.  In a statement, MA Attorney General Martha Coakely derided the violators:

“We allege this company failed to pay its employees in accordance with the law, and obtained an unfair cost advantage over law-abiding competitors.  The enforcement of these laws is essential in maintaining a level playing field for all businesses that play by the rules and protecting the rights of our workers.”

The investigation began in May of 2011 when the AG’s office received complaints that workers were being underpaid.  The investigation found that between March of 2010 and November of 2011, M&J knowingly failed to pay dozens of workers the correct wages while submitting paperwork to the contrary.

During the course of the project, M&J submitted certified payroll records weekly to the awarding authority, the Massachusetts Highway Department, asserting it was paying its employees the prevailing wage for all hours worked. The AG’s investigation determined that M&J knowingly underreported the hours worked by dozens of its employees on the certified payroll records to give the appearance that it was in compliance with the wage and hour laws. According to the lawsuit, by misrepresenting how workers would be compensated, M&J engaged in unfair competition in violation of Chapter 93A, the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. M&J also knowingly submitted false certified payroll records to the awarding authority that grossly understated the total number of hours worked by M&J employees.

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