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HomeContractingContractor misclassified workers: must pay $186,000: US Department of Labor

Contractor misclassified workers: must pay $186,000: US Department of Labor

Washington Construction News staff writer

An administrative law judge has upheld the findings of a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the employment practices of a Bowie, Maryland concrete subcontractor and its owners that found the employers wrongly classified workers on a federally funded affordable housing project in the District of Columbia in violation of federal regulations.

The action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of V&V Construction Inc. and its owners, Carlos and Cristina Vicente, that determined the employers classified journey workers as skilled laborers incorrectly and, by doing so, underpaid them for overtime hours, the DoL says in a May 8 statement.

The employers also paid workers a split rate of 25 hours per week as full journey workers and 15 hours per week as skilled laborers and did not pay workers’ their correct prevailing wages and fringe benefits. Investigators also discovered that V&V Construction submitted falsified payroll records and failed to prove it displayed required worksite posters.

The company’s workers did concrete installation in August 2018 as part of the construction of Liberty Place Apartments in northwest Washington as a subcontractor to Hamel Builders of Washington LLC, the project’s prime contractor.

The division determined V&V Construction and its owners owed $195,492 in back wages to 55 workers for violations of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, but they failed to make any payments and requested a hearing with the Office of Administrative Law Judges. The department’s Office of the Solicitor reached a settlement with the employers to resolve the matter without further litigation.

“The employers wrongly classified and underpaid journey workers as laborers and then segregated work hours inaccurately, denying workers a significant amount of wages and fringe benefits,” said Wage and Hour Division district director Roberto Melendez in Richmond, Virginia. “The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that federal investments in construction projects result in the creation of good jobs defined by strong labor standards. We encourage employers awarded federal contracts to contact us for compliance assistance to avoid violations like those in this case.”

Consent findings issued by Judge Theodore Annos with the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington upheld the investigation conclusions and ordered V&V Construction and its owners to pay $186,124 in back wages to the affected employees. As part of the settlement, the employers agreed to enhanced compliance, including 18 months of independent monitoring of DBRA contracts to ensure future compliance.

“Federally funded projects require employers to comply with the law. When they fail to do so, we will hold them legally accountable to ensure workers are properly classified and not deprived of their hard-earned wages and benefits,” said Acting Regional Solicitor of Labor Samantha Thomas in Philadelphia.

Completed in 2020, the Liberty Place Apartments project relied on funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded to the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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