Cleaning Subcontractor Ordered to Pay $750,000 for Failing to Pay Employee Wages
Star Services, Inc. Deducted Health, Welfare and Pension Fund Contributions from Paychecks, Without Remitting Deductions to the Funds
BOSTON – An East Boston commercial cleaning, maintenance and janitorial service company has been ordered to pay more than $750,000 in restitution and penalties for violations of the Massachusetts prevailing wage laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“This subcontractor unlawfully deducted wages from its employees for benefits, but did not make contributions to the appropriate funds,” AG Coakley said. “Workers are entitled to all of the wages that they earn under the law. These violations not only undercut workers, but also competitive businesses that play by the rules.”
In 2011, the Attorney General’s Office received a complaint from the SEIU Local 615 that employees of Star Services, Inc., a subcontractor of ABM Janitorial Services under its contract to provide cleaning services at Massachusetts Convention Center Authority facilities in Boston, were having deductions taken from their pay for contributions to the funds which were not being remitted to the funds.
Under Massachusetts wage and hour laws, workers who provide cleaning and maintenance services at buildings owned or rented by the Commonwealth must be paid a prevailing wage that may include deductions for health, welfare and pension fund benefits. However, if there are no payments to such funds, the law requires that payments be made directly to the worker.
Through its investigation the AG’s Office determined that, from March 2012 through September 2013, Star Services took more than $959,000 in deductions from 160 workers for health, welfare and pension fund contributions that were never made.
ABM terminated the Star Services contract and has agreed to pay $300,000 towards restitution to the Star Services employees and the pension fund. The citations order Star Services and its president, Anthony Portillo, to pay the more than $660,000 owed to the workers and penalties.
This matter was handled by Fair Labor Division Chief Matthew Berge, Deputy Chief Amy Goyer, and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Cotter with investigative assistance from Fair Labor Investigator Jennifer Pak.