“Time and again, we’ve seen how wage theft is symptomatic of an overall disregard for workers’ well-being on work sites where companies regularly defraud their employees,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in a press release.
His office has just obtained an indictment against CRV Precast Construction, LLC, and six of its employees. They are charged with intentionally misclassifying workers into lower-skilled categories to pay them less than the prevailing wage for their work. Moreover, the defendants allegedly falsified information about the workers for insurance purposes, resulting in them being underinsured for the risk of their jobs.
“These defendants stole from their workers on city construction projects,” added the Department of Investigation in the release. “In trying to skirt these laws for their own benefit, the defendants’ alleged conduct has instead landed them in handcuffs and facing prosecution.”
The defendants are charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud, and a scheme to defraud, along with other charges.
Under federal law, all contractors and subcontractors working on federally funded construction projects must pay workers the prevailing wage and benefits for their job classification. According to the indictment, CRV was a subcontractor on a federally funded project, hired to erect a steel framework. This requires either concrete laborers or ironworkers, depending on the task. Ironworkers are subject to more risk than concrete laborers and are paid a higher prevailing wage.
CRV allegedly misclassified at least four ironworkers as concrete laborers, including one ironworker who was killed on a CRV job site. The defendants are thought to have stolen at least $40,000 from the four workers. When the ironworkers complained about their low wages, they were told they could quit.
In addition to the alleged wage theft, CRV is accused of filing false payroll information with the New York State Insurance Fund and of misclassifying the ironworkers to obtain lower insurance premiums. By underreporting its aggregate payroll and misclassifying the workers, the company is estimated to have underpaid as much as $790,000.
Unfortunately, according to the Manhattan DA, misclassifying highly-skilled construction workers as lesser-skilled workers to pay them a lower prevailing wage is a common way that companies steal from their employees.
If you suspect that your employer is not paying you the full prevailing wage, or if you have questions about overtime or other wage laws, contact an employment law attorney to learn more about your rights and options.
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