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OR Levies Second Lifetime Ban of Company For Violating Prevailing Wage (NOTE: Be Like Oregon)

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Oregon janitorial company Cornerstone Janitorial Services has been banned from working on all future state public works contracts. It is only the second lifetime ban ever imposed by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Accused of underpaying workers on publicly funded projects, the company agreed to pay $144,000 in damages to 46 workers as part of a settlement with BOLI. 

This was not Cornerstone’s first infraction. The company has a history of failing to pay the prevailing wage:

The damages are in addition to nearly $200,000 in back wages that already have been paid to the 46 janitors, who had received less than the prevailing wage doing cleanup at construction sites from Portland to Eugene, the bureau said.

[…] “Our agency is committed to holding businesses accountable so that workers receive every dollar they’ve earned,” Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said in a written statement. “It’s especially important that taxpayer-funded projects fulfill the basic promise of fair wages for a fair day’s work. This settlement is a win for vulnerable workers and other businesses that deserve a level playing field.”

A complaint by Hoffman Construction Company in October 2014 first brought the issue to light.  Hoffman was working on a project with Cornerstone at the time:

The complaint accused Cornerstone of failing to pay workers the prevailing wage and paying them only in cash during a project at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus.

[Cornerstone owner Sang] Nam allegedly hired undocumented workers, paid them less than prevailing wage and pocketed the difference, according to an investigation by GoLocalPDX. For instance, one worker received $12 an hour for work that required an hourly prevailing wage of $36.

But Cornerstone’s offenses aren’t limited to the prevailing wage. They have created a veritable potpourri of janitorial wage violations:

Investigators also found that workers were not paid overtime wages they had earned, payroll statements had been falsified by the company, and employment records weren’t properly maintained.

A complaint in a separate civil rights investigation said a Cornerstone employee was fired for participating in BOLI’s wage investigation. The employee, according to the complaint, was offered a bribe by Cornerstone owner Nam Sang not to speak with investigators.

The only other firm to receive a lifetime ban from BOLI was Cameron Creations in 2000. That, too, was for a prevailing wage violation.


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