BOSTON – (RealEstateRama) — Three Massachusetts construction companies have been cited more than $600,000 in total in restitution and penalties for failing to pay the proper prevailing wage rate to employees for work performed on public projects as well as other violations of state wage laws, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG’s Office issued citations against Ronan Jarvis, former owner of MC Starr Companies Inc., DANCO Management, Inc., and its owner, Daniel Tremblay, and R&A Drywall, LLC and owner Allan S. Vitale.
“Our prevailing wage laws ensure a level playing field for contractors who perform work for public entities, including municipalities, schools, libraries and housing authorities,” said AG Healey. “When contractors skirt these laws, they not only cheat employees out of their wages, they undermine the competitive business environment of Massachusetts.”
The AG’s Office has prioritized addressing wage theft in the construction industry. Since the beginning of 2017, the AG’s Fair Labor Division has issued 54 citations against 24 employers in the construction industry, for a total of more than $1.5 million in assessed restitution and penalties.
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.
The AG’s Office issued three citations totaling $325,053 in restitution and penalties against Ronan Jarvis for Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage, Failure to Submit True and Accurate Weekly Certified Payroll Records to the Awarding Authorities, and Failure to Furnish True and Accurate Certified Payroll Records to the AG’s Office.
Jarvis did business under the name MC Starr Companies, a general construction company located in Milton, during the time of the AG’s investigation. The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after receiving complaints from several former employees who performed work on two public projects for Jarvis—West Bridgewater’s construction of a new middle/senior high school and the Massachusetts Port Authority’s Cruise Terminal Interim Expansion.
The investigation revealed that Jarvis failed to pay the prevailing wage to 22 employees by misclassifying workers. This resulted in the employees being paid a lower hourly rate. Jarvis also failed to pay his employees any wages for the majority of the weeks they worked.
The AG’s investigation also determined that Jarvis did not submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority on a weekly basis, as required by law. These records must contain the employees’ identities, their hourly rates of pay, the job classifications of the work performed, and information about deductions taken from their pay.
DANCO MANAGEMENT/DANIEL TREMBLAY
The AG’s Office issued four citations totaling $293,812 in restitution and penalties against DANCO Management, Inc. and owner Daniel Tremblay for Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage, Failure to Make Timely Payment of Wages, Failure to Submit True and Accurate Certified Payroll Records and Failure to Keep True and Accurate Payroll Records.
DANCO is a Peabody general construction company owned by Tremblay specializing in rough and finished carpentry work. The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after receiving a complaint from an employee who claimed he was paid below the prevailing wage for work he performed for DANCO on a public works project.
The AG’s investigation revealed that DANCO performed work on ten public works projects between May 2014 and June 2015 in four Massachusetts counties. The contract amounts for these projects exceeded $2 million. Those projects included work for the following public entities:
- Salem Fire Station
- Waltham Bright School
- Wakefield Housing
- North Chelmsford Water
- Tewksbury Housing
- Chelsea Soldiers Home
- MetroWest Transit Authority
- Salisbury Library
- Reading Library
- Salem Housing Authority
The AG’s investigation found that DANCO and Tremblay failed to pay 14 employees the proper prevailing wage rate for carpentry work performed. Tremblay also deducted money from employees’ hourly prevailing wage rates for fringe benefits (i.e. health & welfare and pension contributions) that were not provided to the employees.
The prevailing wage rate includes both a cash wage component and credits for employer payments to bona fide health and welfare, pension, and supplemental unemployment benefit plans. If an employer does not provide any of these fringe benefits, then the total prevailing wage rate must be paid as a cash wage.
The investigation revealed that employees were not paid in full in a timely manner, which by law is no later than six days from the end of the pay period in which the wages were earned. DANCO and Tremblay also did not keep adequate general payroll records and its certified payroll records were not accurate.
R&A DRYWALL/ALLEN S. VITALE
The AG’s Office issued five citations totaling $62,359 in restitution and penalties against R&A Drywall and owner Allen S. Vitale for Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage, Failure to Pay the Prevailing Wage (subsequent offense), Intentional Failure to Pay Overtime, Failure to Pay Overtime and Failure to Submit True and Accurate Weekly Certified Payroll Records to the Awarding Authority.
R&A Drywall was a Lawrence company that was involuntarily dissolved in June 2016. The AG’s Office previously cited Vitale and R&A in 2014 for failing to pay the prevailing wage on projects for the city of Quincy and the Division of Capital Asset Management.
The AG’s Office began the most recent investigation to ensure R&A was complying with the law on its current project in Quincy. Shortly thereafter, the AG’s Office discovered an additional active project in Lexington. The investigation revealed that R&A and Vitale consistently paid less than the prevailing wage rate at the two projects by misclassifying employees.
The investigation also found that R&A and Vitale failed to properly compensate its employees who worked over forty hours in a given week. The state’s overtime law requires employers to pay qualifying employees time and one half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.
R&A and Vitale also did not submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority in the Quincy project on a weekly basis, as required by law.
This matter and the Jarvis matter are being handled by Assistant Attorney General Erik Bennett and Investigator Tom Lam, both of AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division. The DANCO case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Barbara Dillon DeSouza and Inspector Brian Davies, both of Attorney General Healey’s Fair Labor Division.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace can also 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 www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.