Dorchester Painting Company Cited Nearly $90,000 for Wage and Hour Violations
The Attorney General's Office cited American East and Celestine for intentionally failing to pay the prevailing wage to seven employees. The citation orders American East and Celestine to pay over $49,000 in restitution and a $10,000 fine. Celestine and his company were also cited for failing to pay an employee wages in a timely manner from July 2007 through February 2008, and were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,591.36 and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, American East and Celestine were cited $5,000 for failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority; $10,000 for failing to furnish payroll records to the Attorney General's Office for inspection and $10,000 for failure to furnish general payroll records to the Attorney General's Office for inspection.
In June 2008, the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division received a wage complaint from a former employee of American East and Celestine, alleging that he had not been paid for work performed for the company. Investigators sent Celestine and his company a letter seeking a response to the complaint. American East and Celestine failed to respond to the letter. The Attorney General's Office then received another complaint in February 2009, alleging that American East and Celestine had failed to pay the prevailing wage on two public works projects. Investigators from the Attorney General's Office sent another letter to Celestine and American East demanding the company's general payroll and certified payroll records. A second letter demanding the payroll records was issued after Celestine and his company again failed to respond to the Attorney General's first demand for records. Investigators from the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division then asked the DCR for American East's certified payroll records. Investigators were able to obtain the certified payroll records directly from DCR, which showed that American East and Celestine failed to pay the prevailing wage. However, to date, the Attorney General's Office has received no records from American East or Celestine for inspection, as required by statute.
The Prevailing Wage and Record Keeping Laws apply to all construction work performed on public works projects in Massachusetts. The Prevailing Wage Laws allow all contractors bidding on public works projects to enjoy a "level playing field" by standardizing the rate of pay the workers will earn. The Payroll Record Keeping Law allows state agencies to monitor the spending of taxpayer monies on public construction projects. A company's failure to pay its employees the state prevailing wage for work performed at a public construction site or to abide by the record keeping requirements can result in both civil and criminal penalties against the company and its owner. Workers who believe they may not been paid the appropriate wages are encouraged to call the Attorney General's Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website: www.massworkrights.com.
The matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Miranda S. Jones and Inspector Nuno Fontes Montrond, both of Attorney General Coakley's Fair Labor Division.