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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Press Releases

Date:  January 28, 2015

Contact:  Leo F. Kay

Phone:  415-625-2630

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 14-2311-SAN



US Labor Department recovers more than $87K in unpaid wages, overtime for 39 workers on federally funded construction project in Portland, Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Sierra Construction Co. Inc. has agreed to pay $87,239 in back wages to 39 employees who worked on The Prescott apartment building, a federally financed construction project in Portland. U.S. Department of Labor investigators found that Sierra and two of its subcontractors failed to pay the prevailing wages required by the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Sierra, the general contractor, violated the DBRA by improperly classifying workers in lower-paying positions that did not reflect all duties performed by the employees. For example, on the project carpenters and laborers spent significant time working as ironworkers, but were not paid the proper rate, which can be $7 to $15 more per hour than they were typically paid. Sierra also failed to include information listing the required DBRA wage rates in contracts with two subcontractors, who then failed to pay their employees the required prevailing wages.

“Taxpayers have a right to expect that federal contractors fully understand their obligations and comply with the law,” said Thomas Silva, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Portland. “When any employer violates labor laws, they cheat their own employees and they gain an unfair advantage over those employers who obey the law.”

Based in Woodinville, Washington, Sierra paid a total of $67,655 in back wages to 16 of its employees. This amount includes $62,068 for violations of the DBRA and an additional $5,587 for overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Sierra also paid an additional $19,584 in back wages for 18 employees of subcontractor Wilco Painting and five employees of subcontractor Evergreen Installation.

Construction of the federally financed Prescott apartment building project began in April 2012 and ended in December 2013. The $23-million Davis-Bacon Act contract involved the construction of a building with 155 residential units for moderate-income families, elderly and the handicapped.

The DBRA requires all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal and certain federally funded projects to pay the proper prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits, as determined by the secretary of labor.

For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or in San Francisco at 415-625-7720. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.