US Department of Labor recovers $178K in back wages for 27 workers of Houston employer who misclassified them as independent contractors
HOUSTON – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $178,358 in overtime back wages for 27 employees of a Houston welding and fabrication company that misclassified them as independent contractors and denied them their full wages and benefits.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found M&M’s Welding & Fabricating – operating as M&M’s Welding – misclassified the workers who specialize in the erection of structural steel buildings. As a result, the employer failed to pay the overtime premium for hours over 40 in a workweek and paid only straight time for all hours worked.
“M&M’s Welding & Fabricating exploited vulnerable workers by misclassifying and denying them the overtime pay they earned,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Robin Mallett in Houston. “Employers who do this harm workers and their families who depend on their earnings and benefits. They also gain an unfair advantage over their business competitors who abide by the law. The Wage and Hour Division will hold these employers accountable.”
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for determining whether employees have been misclassified as independent contractors and have been denied critical benefits and labor standards protections. In fiscal year 2021, the division identified more than $36 million in back wages owed to about 21,000 construction industry workers. In its investigations, the division commonly finds violations related to employers failing to pay overtime when required, misclassifying workers as independent contractors, and not paying them for time spent on work-related travel, or pre- and post-shift work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects construction industry employment to grow at a rate of 6 percent by 2030, with a gain of approximately 400,000 jobs. Employers who ensure their workers are paid their rightful wages and benefits will be best positioned to retain and recruit skilled workers.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. The division protects workers regardless of immigration status and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages.