Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
U.S. Department of Labor Files Contempt Petition Against Massachusetts Companies Ordered to Pay $2.4 Million in Back Wages, Damages
BOSTON, MA – The U.S. Department of Labor has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to hold two Massachusetts construction companies and two of their officers in civil contempt for not fulfilling the terms of an August 2016 consent judgment and order that requires them to pay $2,359,685 in back wages and liquidated damages to 478 employees.
The 2016 consent judgment and order obliges Force Corp., AB Construction Group Inc. and employers Juliano Fernandes and Anderson dos Santos to make quarterly payments to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) resulting, in part, from their misclassifying the bulk of their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them overtime wages.
The defendants have paid only $477,900. They currently owe a total of $1,754,129, plus interest, to the affected employees.
The Department's petition asks the court to find the defendants in civil contempt and order them to pay the overdue wages of $1,179,842.55, plus interest. Should the defendants refuse or fail to do so, the Department requests sanctions against them, including imprisonment and daily fines.
"The U.S. Department of Labor will use all available legal tools to ensure that employers comply with their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act," said Solicitor of Labor Kate S. O'Scannlain.
"These employers conceded that they unlawfully kept the wages of 478 employees, and committed themselves to paying those employees under a consent judgment and order of the court. In violation of that order, the employers have unlawfully kept $1,179,842.55 of their employees' hard-earned wages. After numerous attempts to resolve the employers' continued failure to comply with the court order, the U.S. Department of Labor now asks the court to hold the defendants in contempt and impose all sanctions required, including imprisonment if necessary, to ensure compliance with the court's original order," said Regional Solicitor of Labor for New England Maia Fisher in Boston.
"The defendants' ongoing failure to pay their employees their hard-earned wages shortchanges workers who have waited a long time to be paid, and places law-abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage," said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton.
"The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring employees receive all the wages they have rightfully earned and employers compete on a level playing field," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston.
WHD's Boston District Office conducted the original investigation. The Department's Boston Regional Office of the Solicitor is litigating the case for the Department.
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, online toolkits, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Pizzella v. Force Corporation, AB Construction Group Inc., Juliano Fernandes, and Anderson dos Santos
Civil Action Number: 16-cv-40103-TSH