New Hampshire Contractor Debarred and Ordered to Pay Restitution for Prevailing Wage Law Violations
Stephen P. Bissonnette, age 45, of Salem, New Hampshire, was sentenced by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan yesterday to 59 days in jail, with the sentence suspended for a probationary period of four years on the charges of Failure to Pay Prevailing Wages (12 counts) and Failure to Submit True and Accurate Certified Payroll Records (12 counts). Judge Quinlan also ordered Bissonnette to pay full restitution in the amount of $36,392.80 to 24 former employees. In addition, Bissonnette is prohibited from doing any public construction in the Commonwealth for a period of two years. Bissonnette pled guilty to these charges in December 2010.
"Employers who have the privilege of engaging in publicly funded construction projects are required by law to pay their employees the proper prevailing wages for all hours of work," AG Coakley said. "Our office is committed to undertaking robust enforcement of all laws within our purview to make sure workers in the Commonwealth receive the wages that they are entitled to under the law."
Bissonnette formerly operated the now defunct Stom Companies, Inc. d/b/a Premier Caulking, Inc. ("Premier"), formerly based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and served as its sole corporate officer. Bissonnette provided waterproofing and damp proofing services on a number of public construction projects throughout Massachusetts, and employed workers who installed waterproofing materials on foundations, walls, elevator shafts and other building surfaces.
The Attorney General's Office began an investigation after receiving a complaint alleging that Premier failed to pay the required masonry waterproofers' prevailing wage rate to employees at numerous public construction projects across the state. The criminal investigation arose after Premier and Bissonnette each failed to comply with 12 civil citations issued during November 2004 and March 2006, in which the AG's Office ordered Premier to pay over $36,000 in restitution to 24 employees for unpaid prevailing wages. Under the AG's enforcement authority, the office may seek indictments against any employer who fails to comply with the requirements of the Attorney General's citations issued for wage law violations.
Investigators from the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division discovered that during November 2001 through May 2005, Premier and Bissonnette did not pay prevailing wages to their employees on the following Massachusetts public works construction projects: UMass Dartmouth Dormitory project, UMass Boston Campus Center project, Crisafulli Elementary School project, Clinton Elementary School project, Normandin Middle School project, UMass Lowell Campus Center project, Shirley Middle School project, Westford Middle School project, Quinsigamond Community College project, Danvers Middle School project, Lunenburg Primary School project and the Weymouth High School project.
Premier and Bissonnette, in his capacity as corporate officer, failed to submit true and accurate certified payroll records for the same projects, by failing to accurately report the employees' occupational classifications.
Under the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law, contractors and subcontracts 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 they perform. The law also requires that contractors and subcontractors working on public construction projects must submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority on a weekly basis. These records must contain the employees' identities, their hourly rates of pay, the job classifications of the work performed, and information about deductions taken from their pay.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Bissonnette and his company On September 10, 2009. They were arraigned on November 18, 2009, in Suffolk Superior Court where they entered pleas of not guilty and Bissonnette was released on personal recognizance. On December 20, 2010, Bissonnette pled guilty to all charges. Yesterday, he was sentenced.
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 was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Karla E. Zarbo and Lauren Goldman, both of AG Coakley's Fair Labor Division.