Speaking up about wage injustices is not necessarily easy to do. Many workers fear for their job safety, and when faced with the possibility of being wrongfully discharged for complaining, many are bullied into keeping quiet. A construction company that performed work at the University of Massachusetts recently paid restitution to some of its workers after an investigation found that it had violated wage and hour laws.
Construction projects that occur at UMass are considered public, leaving them subject to a special minimum wage as determined by the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law. Both contractors and additional subcontractors are required to pay that special minimum wage to their employees when working on public projects. Recent UMass construction left some employees with lighter paychecks than those to which they were entitled.
The office of the Attorney General launched an investigation into a construction company’s payment practices and concluded that it violated Massachusetts wage law during projects at the university. According to the investigation, regular workers were purposely misclassified as apprentices, who are not required to register with certain state departments. Keeping workers unregistered allowed the company to underpay at least six of its employees, all of whom received restitution at the conclusion of the investigation.
Unfortunately, this is not a rare instance of a rogue employer cheating the system. The president of a local labor council noted that these types of violations of wage and hour laws are actually quite common, as the fair labor division recently investigated at least four other cases involving workers who were registered incorrectly. Workers who suspect that they have been underpaid are not without options, and avenues exist that can help them achieve just restitution for their work.
Source: dailycollegian.com, “Six workers issued restitution and penalties after violation of Massachusetts prevailing wage law on UMass campus“, Lia Gips, March 30, 2016