For Immediate Release - March 07, 2011

Division of Administrative Law Appeals Upholds Attorney General's Citations Assessing $30,000 in Penalties Against Dedham Construction Company and its President for Failing to Produce Payroll Records

BOSTON - The Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) has upheld civil citations and penalties assessed by Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office in June 2009 against Marie Raftes, age 68, of Dedham, and her company Lancaster Enterprises, Inc., a construction company based in Dedham. The citations were for intentionally failing to submit certified payroll records to the AG's Office, intentionally failing to submit certified payroll records to the Massachusetts State Police Barracks in Newbury, (the authority that awarded a public construction contract to the employer), and intentionally failing to submit general payroll records for inspection to the AG. The Attorney General's Office assessed civil penalties of $10,000 for each violation, for a total of $30,000.

Raftes and Lancaster Enterprises appealed the citations to DALA in July 2009. They argued that the violations were unintentional because they resulted from ignorance of reporting requirements and generally "sloppy bookkeeping." Raftes and her company also argued that that the penalty amounts were excessive. Following the hearing, DALA issued a decision upholding the Attorney General's citations and penalty amounts. DALA explained that the company and its president bore the evidentiary burden to show by a preponderance of evidence that the citations were erroneously issued. The Division found that "sloppy bookkeeping or loss of documents does not relieve the employer of its burden to maintain records."

DALA explained that the Attorney General is entitled to assess civil penalties of up to $25,000 for violations of the Commonwealth's wage and hour laws. For a first offense, the Attorney General may assess a civil penalty of up to $15,000 for an intentional violation and up to $7,500 for an unintentional violation. DALA rejected the employer's argument that a total civil penalty between $5,000 and $7,500 would be more appropriate. It noted that the $15,000 cap on fines for intentional first offenses is a cap on each violation, and not a cap on the total amount of penalties assessed. DALA found that civil penalties totaling $30,000 was squarely within the Attorney General's statutory authority and not excessive, and it further noted that the Attorney General could have assessed fines totaling $45,000.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Miranda Jones and was investigated by Investigators Daniel Cullinane and Nuno Fontes Montrond, all of AG Coakley's Fair Labor Division.