When you work as a subcontractor, it is absolutely crucial that your employer pays you properly and on time. Of course, if you work as a subcontractor, you already know that this does not always happen. While many workers shrug it off as part of the business, employers who underpay are breaking the law, and should be held accountable.
This frustrating experience was recently illustrated by a local contractor who allegedly underpaid subcontractors. A number of subcontracting carpenters claim the New Jersey contractor shorted them on appropriate overtime pay and violated payroll law.
Their experience is one that many have had before. They claim that the employer failed to pay them for all of their overtime hours, and the overtime that was paid was often paid in cash and at a lower rate than the law mandates.
There are a few separate violations present here. First, while overtime pay statutes vary from state to state, the law governing this job (just up the road in Massachusetts) mandated that the workers should be paid time-and-a-half for any work performed beyond 40 hours in a given week. By failing to pay for all of the hours of overtime, the contractor broke the law.
Second, the contractor allegedly committed a separate violation by attempting to circumvent labor laws through paying cash for overtime work (at a reduced rate). Many subcontractors take it on the chin and take what they can get because they feel they have no choice. However, with proper legal representation, you can have a choice.
Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced labor and wages attorney if you believe that you are not being properly paid. Often, employees break the law simply because they believe that they won’t get called on it. When you stand up for your rights to proper compensation, you are standing up for many others who do not have the courage or resources to stand up themselves.
Source: MassLive, “Workers building high-end apartments in Worcester claim wage theft and payroll fraud,” Melissa Hanson, April 25, 2017