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The United States Department of Labor's district office in Hartford has announced an initiative to aggressively pursue wage and hour violations on construction sites in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
"Due to the competitive nature of the construction industry, some contractor and subcontractors cut corners with respect to wages, hours and employment conditions," said Neil Patrick, the Wage and Hour Division's district director in Hartford. "The Wage and Hour Division is developing new strategies to better identify and remedy widespread labor violations so workers are protected against exploitation and law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage when they play by the rules and pay fair wages."
NERCC staff in the two states have been pushing for increased enforcement as harsh economic conditions in the construction industry have made it more tempting for project owners and general contractors to look the other way at violations. Several meetings have been held with state and federal enforcement agencies in the last year where multi-state investigations have been a main point of discussion.
Because so many general contractors and subcontractors move across city and state borders, coordinated efforts are essential to make a significant impact on contractors and the industry as a whole.
The DOL plans to look at general contractor and subcontractors on projects in Connecticut and Rhode Island to uncover patterns of cheating. The Wage and Hour Division conducted nearly 300 investigations in the construction industry in the last ten years, recouping $5.6 million for almost 3,300 workers.
"These numbers how that we need to change industry behavior across the board, not simply on an employer-by-employer basis," Patrick said. "Paying workers the proper wages is the employer's responsibility. We particularly want to encourage general contractors to require and ensure Fair Labor Standards Act compliance by all of their subcontractors.??