The Real Deal New York

State cracks down on construction companies accused of not paying workers

Roughly $700K worth of wages has been returned, Vance says
By Kathryn Brenzel | December 04, 2017 03:14PM

D.A. Vance and construction site (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Since the beginning of this year, state and city authorities have cracked down on several construction contractors who they say withheld more than $2.5 million from hundreds of workers across the city.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Monday announced criminal charges against seven companies in the city and one each in Nassau and Westchester counties, for allegedly shortchanging more than 400 workers. Some $700,000 in wages has already been returned to workers, the DA said.

“Every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they’ll actually be paid for their work,” Vance said in a statement. “Wage theft is one of the most pervasive problems in New York City and State, and in the construction industry in particular, workers are all too often preyed upon by their employers.”

The roundup of wage theft cases included charges against Sky Materials Corp., which was accused of underreporting its employee payroll to secure breaks on insurance premiums. The company, which was also convicted of manslaughter in the 2015 death of a worker at the Restoration Hardware site, agreed to pay $464,000 in back wages to its workers.

Long Island City-based City Metro Corp. was also indicted for allegedly stealing more than $241,000 from 45 workers on a Midtown hotel project. The workers, who were hired to install concrete, were paid only portions of their wages or not at all for work completed between June 2015 and April 2017, according to authorities.

Earlier this month, Brooklyn-based MSR Electrical Construction Company admitted to underpaying its workers on multiple public works projects. The company agreed to forfeit $2.5 million, of which $700,000 will go to workers. The rest will be paid to city and state agencies.

These cases are part of a larger effort to reform the state’s construction agency. The Wage Theft Initiative is spearheaded by the New York City Department of Investigation, New York City Comptroller’s Office, New York State Attorney General’s Office and New York State Department of Labor.