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Feds: Builder Shorted Workers, Subs

Monday, February 2, 2015

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A general contractor and construction management firm will pay more than $87,000 to make good on wages owed to its employees and those of two subcontractors who worked on a federally financed multifamily project in Portland, OR, the Department of Labor has announced.

Sierra Construction Co. Inc., based in Woodinville, WA, has agreed to pay $87,239 to compensate 16 of its own employees, as well as 18 employees of Willco Painting of Portland and five employees of Evergreen Installation, of Carnation, WA.

Sierra Construction Co.

Completed in late 2013, the $23 million Prescott Apartments project in Portland, OR, included 155 residential units and commercial space.

Federal investigators from DOL's Wage and Hour Division found that the three contractors failed to pay the prevailing wages required by the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts.

Changing Classifications

According to DOL, Sierra improperly classified workers "in lower-paying positions that did not reflect all duties performed by the employees."

For example, carpenters and laborers on the project "spent significant time working as ironworkers, but were not paid the proper rate, which can be $7 to $15 more per hour than they were typically paid," the agency said.

"Sierra also failed to include information listing the required DBRA wage rates in contracts with two subcontractors, who then failed to pay their employees the required prevailing wages," the department said.

Sierra Construction did not respond Friday (Jan. 30) to a request for comment.


Under the settlement, Sierra paid:

  • $67,655 in back wages to its employees ($62,068 for violations of the DBRA and an additional $5,587 for overtime and minimum-wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act); and
  • $19,584 in back wages to employees of Willco and Evergreen Installation.
The Prescott

The settlement compensated employees of the project's GC and two subcontractors.

Construction of The Prescott Apartments began in April 2012 and ended in December 2013. The $23 million federal contract involved the construction of a 42,735-square-foot building with 155 residential units for moderate-income families, elderly and the handicapped as well as first-floor retail space.

The DBRA requires all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal and certain federally funded projects to pay the proper prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits..

"Taxpayers have a right to expect that federal contractors fully understand their obligations and comply with the law," said Thomas Silva, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Portland. "When any employer violates labor laws, they cheat their own employees and they gain an unfair advantage over those employers who obey the law."


Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Fraud; General contractors; Good Technical Practice; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; North America; Painting Contractors; Workers

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