AG Healey’s Historic Fight Against Wage Theft
Wage theft in the construction industry continues to be a major issue, with unscrupulous employers denying wages or benefits owed to workers, according to a report released earlier this year by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
Attorney General Maura Healey has taken tremendous steps toward combating the scourge of wage theft – citing over 100 construction companies for violating state labor laws and securing wages and benefits for hundreds of workers.
For workers still struggling with the effects of wage theft, there are resources that can help.
The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division enforces state laws regulating the payment of wages, including minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage and earned sick leave. With a team of attorneys, investigators, intake and support staff, the Division also protects employees from exploitation and wage theft through strong partnerships and community education. More than 40 percent of the Division’s employees speak at least one other language, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese.
In addition, the AG’s Wage Theft Clinic was launched in 2016 and serves as a free consulting service that serves to support aggrieved workers. The monthly clinic connects workers with free legal consultations from private bar attorneys.
Healey, who is running for governor of Massachusetts, has helped more than 19,000 workers in their fight to recover stolen wages, returning more than $7.5 million to workers and ordering companies to pay $4.2 million in penalties in 2022.
The fines and restitution are part of a commitment by Healey to combat wage theft, especially in the trades, and ensure that companies and contractors are adhering to union contracts and state labor law.
In one case, the AG’s office fined a Wareham company and its owners more than $1.2 million, including restitution for 22 employees, for prevailing wage violations and failing to submit certified payroll records. The data is included in the AG’s annual Labor Day Report, which can be read here.
Workers who believe their rights have been violated can call the office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about Massachusetts’ wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.