For Immediate Release - March 04, 2016

Palmer Contractor Pays More Than $61,000 Over Claims It Violated State Prevailing Wage Laws

Company Cited for Violating State Law during Construction at UMass Amherst

BOSTON – A Palmer company has paid more than $61,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations it violated the state prevailing wage law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

The AG’s Office ordered AK Electric, Inc. and owner Anibal C. Alves, of Ludlow, to pay more than $61,000 in restitution and penalties for violations relating to work performed on a public construction project at UMass Amherst.

“Companies can't cheat their workers and not pay wages to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors,” AG Healey said. “The enforcement of these laws is essential to making sure workers are receiving their hard-earned wages and that businesses are operating on a level playing field.”

The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation into AK Electric in July 2015 after the matter was referred by the Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts.

The investigation revealed that the company had improperly classified and paid several workers as apprentices who were not registered with the Massachusetts Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Division of Apprentice Standards. Due to their unregistered status, the employees should have been classified and paid at a higher prevailing wage rate.

AK Electric paid more than $61,000 in restitution and penalties to settle the allegations, from which six employees will receive restitution payments.

Under the Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law, contractors and subcontractors 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 the employees perform. In order for a contractor to classify and pay an employee as an apprentice, the employee must be registered with the Division of Apprentice Standards. Apprentices not registered with the Division of Apprentice Standards must be paid at a higher prevailing wage rate.

The AG’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws. Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state's wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Barbara Dillon DeSouza and was investigated by Inspector Joseph Drzyzga, both of Attorney General Healey’s Fair Labor Division in the Western Massachusetts Regional Office.