Contractors who misuse taxpayer dollars on Davis-Bacon-regulated projects by not paying workers their earned wages need to be held accountable. That’s the case with Blueline Mechanical, a subcontractor on an affordable housing project in Tampa, Florida.
After examining certified payrolls for The Boulevard at West River affordable housing project in Tampa, Torres Consulting and Law Group suspected that Blueline Mechanical failed to classify and pay employees under the appropriate plumber/pipefitter classifications for the actual work performed. In July 2021, TCLG filed a third-party complaint with the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on behalf of the workers. In the complaint, TCLG noted that the contractor used the laborer: pipelayer classification for heating, ventilating and air conditioning work for numerous work hours on the project.
WHD reached out to SMART Local 32 and UA Local 123 for assistance and they agreed that the sheet metal, plumbing and pipefitting work was beyond the scope of a laborer: pipelayer.
The WHD investigation found that by misclassifying workers as laborer: pipelayer they created a fringe benefit shortage. Blueline Mechanical took credit toward fringe benefits for unfunded plans that were not DOL approved, and the firm was using vehicle allowance as a fringe benefit.
As a result of TCLG’s work and the WHD investigation, Blueline Mechanical paid $9,528 in back wages to six misclassified workers.
Unfortunately, Blueline Mechanical has done this before. A 2012 investigation by WHD into the company’s payroll practices on an apartment complex project in Miami, Florida, found that the contractor did not pay prevailing wage rates, misrepresented/falsified certified payrolls and failed to pay fringe benefits. The company was ordered to pay 15 workers $45,929 in back wages.
“This is a great example of contractors being investigated and then still not complying on other projects,” said TCLG Managing Partner Israel G. Torres. “Our compliance team keeps an eye on bad actors to keep them from cheating skilled tradespersons out of the wages they’ve earned.”