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Reshaping the Construction Industry

This Tuesday New York’s Construction Industry Fair Play Act, aimed at combatting worker misclassification, went into effect.  A press release issued by the New York State Department of Labor stated:“Studies show that in any given year, employers misclassify from 15 to 25 percent of construction workers in New York State as independent contractors.  Employee misclassification happens when an employer labels workers wrongly as independent contractors or pays them completely off the books and thus denies them benefits and protections under State and Federal law.    
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
October 28, 2010
The wage theft class action suit filed by the Workers Defense Project on behalf of three construction workers who claimed that the specialty contractor Greater Metroplex Interiors (GMI) had shorted them on wages due and had not paid them overtime on the construction of the Gables Park Plaza has an interesting basis on a little known part of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) according to the Department of Labor.The interesting point about the suit is that the suit is filed claiming joint employer status.  The plaintiff’s attorney, Craig Deats of Deats, Durst, Owen & Levy, PLLC in Austin told Construction Citizen that this is a common law under the labor laws and that the courts will decide whether GMI acted as a joint employer as is claimed in the suit.  He offers his opinion in the following video:  
Jim Kollaer's picture
October 27, 2010
Patricia Zavala, Workplace Justice Coordinator for the Workers Defense Project, recently answered a few questions for Construction Citizen regarding last week’s press conference on the construction workers’ class action law suit we told you about yesterday, as well as the Workers Defense Project, their campaign for fair working conditions and the services which they provide for construction workers in the Austin area.Construction Citizen:  Please introduce yourself and tell us about the Workers Defense Project – who your organization is, what you do and why you do it.
Construction Citizen's picture
October 26, 2010
Construction Citizen attended a press conference at the Gables Park Plaza in Austin, Texas last week.  The press conference was called by the Workers Defense Project to announce that they had assisted three workers who claimed that their employer, Capoera Construction, and Greater Metroplex Interiors (GMI), the contractor who hired Capoera Construction, owed them back wages and overtime for work that they performed on this and another project.  The men say that they often worked up to 70 hours and six days per week without receiving overtime pay and that they were not even paid at all for their work toward the end of the projects.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
October 25, 2010
Around the country there are a number of irresponsible owners and contractors who are being found out for the fact that they are using cash workers who should be paid as employees.  Some of these cash workers have false social security cards or other false identification, many are without safety training, and many have no crafts skills.Some workers who have been cheated out of wages and overtime for which they were legally due are now filing wage theft lawsuits.  However, some workers are undocumented and they cannot protest for fear that the contractor will inform on them and ICE will pay a visit to their home to remove them or members of their families
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
October 20, 2010
Are you wondering what is involved in becoming LEED certified?  You may be interested in a free one-hour webinar tomorrow hosted by RedVector, a company from Tampa which...
Construction Citizen's picture
October 20, 2010
Robert Wood, the Tax Lawyer, in a blog on www.Forbes.com pointed out the movement across the country to criminalize the misuse of independent contractors, and includes several links to see more about the issue.  As we have pointed out in previous blogs, the Wage Theft and Misclassification laws passed or pending in several states are fast becoming the norm in the country.  In talking about Pennsylvania’s new Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, Wood states:“Pennsylvania’s rifle shot law is aimed like a laser at the construction industry, which isn’t exactly in a rosy financial position anywhere.  Yet it’s also clear that the construction industry has long been a kind of breeding ground for worker classification abuses that often swarm like mosquitoes.”  
Jim Kollaer's picture
October 19, 2010
Last Wednesday, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell signed the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, which adds Pennsylvania to the growing list of states passing legislation designed to eliminate the practice of worker misclassification by imposing criminal penalties upon employers who intentionally label their employees as independent contractors.  Like laws passed in other states, the new act spells out the criteria for classifying a worker as an independent contractor.  The act states that a person in the construction industry may only be paid as an independent contractor if that person has a written contract for service, is “free from control or direction” as to how to perform the service, and if that person normally performs the service as an independent business.  The new law makes it a criminal offense to misclassify workers, but also takes it a step further.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
October 19, 2010
The New York Times reported Friday on an Election Day issue that is coming up in San Diego, California.  At issue is whether or not local city councils, school boards and...
Jim Kollaer's picture
October 18, 2010
This week, nwiTimes.com (Northwest Indiana) wrote about a 2008 University of Missouri-Kansas City study which revealed the extent of worker misclassification and the resulting cost to state and local governments.  As in other states, the problem is noted to be widespread, especially in the Indiana construction industry.  Misclassified workers who don’t report all of their income and who go without unemployment and worker compensation insurance represent lost tax revenue for the state in an economy where all departments are struggling to reduce their budgets. Ironically, employers who misclassify their workers are often rewarded with government jobs because by breaking the rules they are able to submit lower bids for construction projects.  This is precisely why State Representative David Niezgodski is looking to strengthen Indiana laws to crack down on those employers who do not play by the rules. 
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
October 14, 2010