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AG fines firms for ducking prevailing wage

Banner Staff

Three Massachusetts construction companies have been cited more than $155,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay the proper prevailing wage rate for work performed on public works projects and for other violations of state wage laws, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

“Employers working on public projects have a duty to treat workers fairly and pay them what they are due,” said Healey. “My office works hard to uphold the prevailing wage laws because Massachusetts residents deserve to know their tax dollars are spent appropriately.”

The AG’s Office issued the following citations:

RJ Morello Inc.

The AG’s Office issued two citations totaling $60,841 in restitution and penalties against Woburn-based RJ Morello Inc. and the company’s president and treasurer Roger J. Morello for failure to pay the prevailing wage and failure to submit true and accurate certified payroll records while completing work for City of Everett Public Schools Plumbing Services in Everett. 

The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation into the company after receiving a complaint from the Plumbers Local 12 Union. The investigation revealed that RJ Morello failed to pay 12 of its plumbers the total wage rate due, misclassified some of its plumbers and underpaid them as apprentices. These employees were not registered apprentices and the employer could not pay them the lower apprentice’s rate. These citations have been paid in full.

Leveillee Architectural Millwork

The AG’s Office issued two citations totaling more than $50,000 in restitution and penalties against Spencer-based Leveillee Architectural Millwork Inc. and its president and treasurer Richard J. Leveillee for unintentional failure to pay the prevailing wage and failure to submit true and accurate payroll records on four public construction projects: the Massachusetts State House Gardner Auditorium in Boston, Boylston Public Library in Boylston, Plymouth Rising Tide Charter Public School in Plymouth and Fitchburg State University.

The investigation into Leveillee’s payment practices revealed that several employees were being paid the incorrect prevailing wage rate and the company appeared to have failed to submit certified payroll reports to awarding authorities on its public jobs. The audit also revealed the company misclassified certain workers as apprentices and paid them at the lower apprenticeship rate.

Gemstone LLC

The AG’s Office issued two citations totaling $45,126 in restitution and penalties against Florida-based Gemstone LLC and its manager Cameron R. Jewell for failure to pay the prevailing wage and failure to pay proper overtime.

The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after a referral from the Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts alleging that Gemstone illegally paid its workers on a Massachusetts Department of Transportation bridge rehabilitation project on Interstate 291 in Springfield. The investigation found Gemstone missed multiple step increases for its bridge painters resulting in an underpayment of the prevailing wage. The audit also revealed the company miscalculated overtime rates because of the missed step increases for 12 employees working more than 40 hours a week.

The AG’s Office has prioritized wage theft in the construction industry. In fiscal year 2018, the AG’s Fair Labor Division issued 97 citations against 45 employers in the construction industry for a total of nearly $1.1 million in assessed restitution and penalties impacting more than 331 workers.

Under the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law, contractors and subcontractors engaged in public construction projects must pay their employees a special minimum wage. The required wage rate is based on the occupational classification for the type of work the employees perform.

Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/wagetheft. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workersmay call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.

— Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

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