Last year, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office cited 66 construction firms working in our state for wage theft violations, forcing these companies to pay fines and restitution reaching nearly $3 million. These companies did not pay their workers. While the construction boom continues in our state, the accusations of wage theft seem to run parallel with it.
The combined fines for these construction companies reached $1.23 million. In addition, the attorney general ordered them to provide back pay to more than 1,000 workers. These situations can be overwhelming for any business - big or small. That's why it is crucial for construction companies to regularly review statutory compliance matters pertaining to wages, employee hours as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Audit, review and create guidelines
An increased number of lawsuits are being filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as more workers charge that their employers aren't paying them for regular or overtime hours. It's a problematic situation for any employer. When such serious accusations surface, it's important to analyze the facts in every case, and prepare a solid defense with an effective legal strategy.
For starters, to protect your company from wage and hour lawsuits, it's crucial to implement solid procedures that would include:
- Creating guidelines that address how to investigate and resolve internal wage complaints.
- Performing regular audits related to time-keeping, record-keeping and how you process payroll as well as addressing an employee's job function.
- Reviewing everyone working for you considered an independent contractor. You want to make sure that they are classified as such, too.
These are just a few of the tips that may help your construction company avoid costly litigation, fines and restitution as experienced by those 66 companies that did business in Massachusetts last year.
Records, data and procedures can support you
You spent years building your company, then suddenly some workers have accused you of wage and hours theft. The future of your company depends on defending yourself. Records, data and having essential procedures in place will support you.