The Seattle Office of Labor Standards ordered two concrete companies to pay over $2.2 million in restitution and penalties after officials alleged they were responsible for “egregious labor standards violations.”
Canadian concrete forming company Newway Forming and Florida concrete finishing company Baja Concrete together had 53 employees at Seattle work sites, where the OLS alleges they worked as much as 19 hours in a day without required breaks. The OLS also says the workers performed “significant” overtime labor without any overtime premium pay between February 2018 and August 2020.
The alleged violations include regularly deducting funds from employee paychecks without authorization, failing to provide paid sick and safe time, failing to pay minimum wage, failing to pay for all hours worked and failing to pay overtime or provide sufficient breaks.
Steven Marchese, the director of OLS, called the legal action “a significant win for construction workers in an industry that is rife with labor standards violations.”
“Vulnerable, low-income workers are often subjected to intimidation in the workplace and must be protected,” Marchese said in a statement.
The OLS ordered a total financial remedy of $2,055,204.10 due to employees and former employees, and $170,786.20 in civil penalties and fines to the city of Seattle.
Newway has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The amounts allegedly owed to the individual workers range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $289,105.15 for combined liquidated damages, interest and back wages, records show.
Both companies have filed to appeal the order: Newway argues it was wrongly being held responsible for Baja and Baja’s employees. Baja, which says it would likely be bankrupted by the order, claims it was simply a third-party payroll service provider and that Newway was responsible for setting and recording workers’ hours.
Most of the work and the alleged violations happened at the site of Onni Group’s South Lake Union project, a mixed-use development will include a pair of residential towers, two office buildings and a mid-rise hotel according to court records.
Onni Contracting, the general contractor on the project, subcontracted with Newway for concrete work, which subcontracted with Baja for some of the work, mostly concrete finishing, court records state. Onni was not included in the OLS’s order or the allegations.