Dedham Construction Company Ordered to Pay Over $100,000 in Restitution and Penalties for Improperly Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors and Other Wage and Hour Violations
"At a time when many people are struggling financially, it is crucial that workers receive the wages they are rightfully owed," AG Coakley said. "The independent contractor law is designed to ensure that all businesses are competing on a level playing field."
Lancaster Enterprises, Inc., (Lancaster) and its owner, Marie Raftes, age 68, of Dedham, have been cited by the AG's Office for the second time in less than two years. The Attorney General's Office issued this most recent set of citations for unpaid wages totaling more than $37,000 to 10 employees who performed work at two public construction sites; a fine of $10,000 for willful failure to pay the prevailing wage; a $2,000 fine for willful failure to submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authorities at the two public construction sites; a $50,000 fine for willful misclassification of employees as independent contractors; and a fine of $2,000 for failure to keep true and accurate payroll records. In total, the Attorney General's Office ordered Raftes and Lancaster Enterprises to pay $64,000 in fines and $37,273.34 in restitution for wage and hour violations.
In June 2009, the Attorney General's Office first cited Raftes and Lancaster for intentionally failing to submit certified payroll records to the AG for work performed at the Newburyport State Police barracks project; intentionally failing to submit certified payroll records to the Massachusetts State Police, the awarding authority for the project, and intentionally failing to submit general payroll records for inspection to the AG's Office. At that time, the AG's Office fined Raftes and her company a total of $30,000 for the violations. Raftes and Lancaster appealed the civil citations to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals ("DALA"). After an evidentiary hearing in January 2011, DALA upheld the issuance of the civil citations.
While the appeal was pending, the AG's Office renewed its demand for Lancaster's payroll records. Raftes and Lancaster submitted additional payroll information. Investigators determined that Raftes and her company failed to pay 10 employees a total of $37,273.34 in wages for work performed at the West Newbury and Newburyport public construction projects. Additionally, investigators discovered that Raftes and Lancaster misclassified 18 roofers as laborers as well as misclassifying them as independent contractors in violation of the Independent Contractor Law.
The Attorney General's Office is responsible for enforcing the laws regulating the payment of wages, overtime and misclassification of employees in the Commonwealth. Workers who believe they have been misclassified or that their rights have been violated are strongly urged 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 case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Miranda S. Jones and investigated by Investigator Nuno R. Fontes Montrond, both of AG Coakley's Fair Labor Division.