The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is conducting a multiyear enforcement initiative focused on the construction industry in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where the division in the past has found widespread noncompliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The goal of this initiative is to remedy systemic violations and promote sustained compliance among contractors and subcontractors working on construction projects.
The initiative includes investigations of large construction projects in both states to assess compliance among general contractors, subcontractors, and other business entities providing services at these worksites. WHD investigators are reviewing employment practices, pay records, and circumstances of joint employment to identify and remedy common violations.
Since 2008, the WHD's Hartford office has conducted 183 investigations of construction industry employers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, recovering nearly $3.3 million in back wages for 1,226 employees. Typical violations include failing to pay employees for all hours worked, paying piece-work rates that result in pay below the minimum wage, failing to pay overtime compensation, and misclassifying FLSA-covered as independent contractors to circumvent wage laws.
Increasingly, large companies such as developers and prime contractors coordinate production but subcontract the work out to smaller companies, says WHD. Investigators are enlisting the cooperation of these general contractors in ensuring compliance among subcontractors as well as third-party staffing companies that provide labor for construction projects. Additionally, the division is reaching out to workers, industry associations, community organizations, and other stakeholders to inform them of the initiative and engage heir participation in promoting compliance.
The WHD has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Connecticut Department of Labor to coordinate the sharing of resources and information. The two agencies have agreed to bolster their effectiveness by coordinating enforcement efforts targeting misclassification of employees as independent contractors.