Pulte Construction Subcontractors Fined for Employee Misclassification

February 14, 2012

In recent employee misclassification news that Howard Law's managing attorney Vincent Howard has been watching, Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley and the State's Office of Labor and Workforce Development recently fined six subcontractors for Pulte Homes development sites over $540,000 in fines and penalties, for engaging in widespread employee misclassification, and failing to properly pay workers at the construction sites.

The employee misclassification enforcement action, focusing on projects of a single builder of homes, was reportedly one of the largest in recent history. The six Pulte subcontractors were reportedly charged with misclassifying workers as independent contractors--a move often used by employers in order to avoid paying unemployment taxes, and to get away with illegal business practices.

According to the Attorney General's office, the workers at the Pulte sites, many of whom were Brazilian immigrants, were not paid minimum wages or overtime compensation for many weeks of work. The back wages were found to have totaled over $190,000. Coakley's office stated that all workers in the state deserve to be fairly paid with the wages that they deserve, including overtime payment.

As Vincent Howard has frequently discussed in our Newport Beach employment lawyers blog, employment misclassification is a problematic workplace issue that often preys on vulnerable, low wage workers who are unaware of their employment rights. Employee misclassification robs workers of important employment protections and benefits, like overtime and minimum wage payments, rest breaks and meal periods, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, and family and medical leave, among other important benefits.

Under federal law, employees must receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, for all hours worked. These employees must also receive overtime payment that totals one and a half times their hourly pay rates, when working over forty hours in a week.

The state's Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification reportedly coordinated the investigation--fining and ordering the subcontractors to compensate workers with back pay. The Attorney General's office reported that Nunes Brothers Construction was fined $112,500, and ordered to pay $99,086.75 to 23 workers, Five Stars Construction was fined $30,000 and ordered to compensate two workers with $30,700, AM Construction Services was fined $22,500, and ordered to pay four workers $15,331.50, Seven Seas Group were fined $20,075 and ordered to compensate five workers with $10,333, and Two Brothers Construction was fined $34,500 and ordered to pay six workers $34,751.50.

Our attorneys at Howard Law, PC are committed to representing employees who have experienced Orange County wage and hour violations. Contact Vincent Howard, managing partner of Howard Law, and our Costa Mesa-based labor and employment team today, for a free consultation about your employment rights.

State Fines Pulte Homes contractors in pay case, The Boston Globe, January 19, 2012

Subcontractors Ordered to Pay for Natick Jobs, Patch.com, January 18, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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