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Thursday, February 28, 2019

IN MAJOR WAGE THEFT CASE, IPSWICH CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CITED $580,000 FOR VIOLATING STATE WAGE LAWS

IN MAJOR WAGE THEFT CASE, IPSWICH CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CITED $580,000 FOR VIOLATING STATE WAGE LAWS

BOSTON – An Ipswich construction company and its owners have been cited $580,611 in restitution and penalties for violations of state wage and hour laws, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

            The AG’s Office has issued six citations against ERA Equipment LLC and its owners, Kristen and Angelo Ciardiello, for a range of wage theft violations including failing to pay overtime and the prevailing wage.  
           
“Our investigation showed that this construction company stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from its workers,” said AG Healey. “Wage theft is a serious offense in Massachusetts and we will continue to take action when needed.”

            The AG’s Office began its investigation in September 2017 after receiving a report alleging the company was not paying the proper prevailing wage. The investigation revealed that none of the company’s 13 employees received overtime pay when working more than forty hours in a week. Four employees were also not paid the appropriate prevailing wage rate while working on projects in the towns of Littleton, Scituate, and Wellesley, sometimes receiving less than half the prevailing wage rate required by law.

The investigation also revealed that the company failed to include some employees in the company’s payroll records, inaccurately reported the employees’ hours of work to avoid paying them overtime and kept inadequate and inconsistent payroll records.

The AG’s Office previously brought enforcement action against ERA and the Ciardiellos for nonpayment of wages, prevailing wage, and payroll records violations, including issuing citations that Angelo Ciardiello and his company, ERA Disposal LLC d/b/a ERA Equipment LLC, paid in 2015 for failing to pay five employees for one day of snow removal work.

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.

As a part of its continued efforts to protect workers and their families in Massachusetts, the AG’s Office issued its third annual Labor Day Report on the office’s efforts to address wage theft and other forms of worker exploitation last month. The report shows that in fiscal year 2018, the office opened 729 cases and assessed more than $9.6 million in restitution and penalties against employers on behalf of working people in Massachusetts.

As part of an ongoing initiative to combat wage theft in the construction industry, Attorney General Maura Healey issued 165 civil citations against 66 construction companies in 2018. Restitution exceeded $1.47 million for more than 1,030 employees of the various employers, and the companies were fined a total of more than $1.23 million.

AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, earned sick time and overtime laws. Workers who believe their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at mass.gov/ago/wagetheft. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Erik Bennett and Investigators Tom Lam and Ricky Galvis of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.

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