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DOL Settles with MA Construction Firms for $2.4M Over 478 Misclassified, Underpaid Workers

Dept of Labor head, Thomas Perez.

Dept of Labor head, Thomas Perez.

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The Department of Labor has landed a $2.4 million settlement with Massachusetts construction firms Force Corp. and AB Construction Group Inc. The case involved the misclassification of a whopping 478 workers and the denial of overtime pay and other benefits.

DOL pursued the companies for compensating their employees with a combination of payroll checks and cash payments to avoid paying overtime. They also kept inadequate and inaccurate records which aided their misclassification as independent contractors

Under the agreement, the defendants agreed to pay the $2.4 million in back wages as well as $262,900 in civil penalties, “due to the willful nature of their violations,’’ the Labor Department said.

Force operates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine, the government said. AB Construction was allegedly created to provide Force, a subcontractor for larger contractors, with much of its labor.

“We take our commitment to our employees seriously and have cooperated fully with the DOL in its review, and are pleased to have resolved this issue in the best interest of our employees,” the company said in a statement.

Force and its associated companies have a long history of wage and safety complaints. They have been sanctioned multiple times by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In the settlement, the company agreed to quarterly audits by an outside company as well as other measures to “assure compliance”:

The defendants agreed to refrain from evading their responsibilities under the FLSA by misclassifying their employees as independent contractors, and to keep accurate records of employees’ wages. They also agreed to engage independent consultants to create a payroll system to insure they are in compliance with the FLSA.

“To be cheated out of wages and denied other workplace protections by an employer who deliberately flouts the rules compounds the struggles too many middle-class Americans already face,” U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “Workers who play by the rules deserve nothing less than to be paid what they are owed.”


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