A Lunenburg, Mass., construction company and a firm it used to avoid its legal responsibilities as an employer have been ordered to pay a total of $2,359,685 in back wages and liquidated damages to 478 employees and take other corrective actions to prevent future violations of federal labor law.

An investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Force Corp., AB Construction Group Inc. and employers Juliano Fernandes and Anderson Dos Santos misclassified the bulk of their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them overtime wages and other benefits to which they were entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the defendants used a combination of payroll checks and cash/check payments to pay their employees straight time when overtime pay was required, and kept inadequate and inaccurate time and payroll records.

“American workers go to their jobs each and every day and work hard to help their employers turn a profit,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a press release. “To be cheated out of wages and denied other workplace protections by an employer who deliberately flouts the rules compounds the struggles too many middle class Americans already face. Workers who play by the rules deserve nothing less than to be paid what they are owed.”

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