State Labor Compliance Inspection Identifies Unlicensed Plumbers and Electricians at Danbury Job Site
HARTFORD, Nov. 2, 2012 – The Connecticut Department of Labor and the Department of Consumer Protection are releasing the results of a joint compliance inspection at the Abbey Woods Apartments and Club House construction site at 55 Abbey Lane, Danbury.
On October 19, 2012 the Department of Labor’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division and the Occupational Enforcement Unit of the Department of Consumer Protection conducted a workplace and licensing compliance inspection at the Abbey Woods worksite, a medium-sized apartment building with an attached concrete parking garage.
Consumer Protection inspectors identified seven (7) individuals allegedly engaging in occupational work without licenses or apprenticeship certificates. The following occupational contracting firms are alleged to have been non-compliant with state occupational laws by willfully employing or supplying the unlicensed or uncertified employees:
• Tried N Tru Plumbing of CT, LTD operated by Richard L. Solano, CT P-1 licensed unlimited plumbing contractor of record, 381 B McLean Ave, Yonkers, NY, allegedly had five unlicensed employees, who identified themselves as plumbers, installing the drain, waste and vent piping without holding any licenses or apprenticeship cards.
• Aerial Electric, operated by Victor L. Rupenski, CT E-1 licensed unlimited electrical contractor of record, 26 Hotchkiss St., Naugatuck, CT, allegedly had two people, who identified themselves as electricians, installing receptacles and switches without electrical licenses.
At the Abbey Woods worksite, Labor Department inspectors issued Stop Work Orders to five companies that were unable to provide proof of worker’s compensation coverage, allegedly, with the intent of misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Companies that deliberately misclassify workers are often avoiding their obligations under federal and state employment laws to provide worker’s compensation, unemployment coverage and proper payroll reporting. The five companies issued Step Work Orders were:
• Comex Painting LLC of Danbury, Connecticut
• Rowland Steel of Brookfield, Connecticut
• Easton Steel of Yonkers, New York
• New York Gypsum Floors, Inc. of Mount Vernon. New York
• Tried N Tru Plumbing (doing business as Water Source) of Yonkers, New York
Stop Work orders result in the halting of all activity at a cited company’s worksite, as well as a $300 civil penalty for each day the company does not carry worker’s compensation coverage.
“If our allegations prove true, the safety and welfare of the apartment’s future residents were compromised by the use of unlicensed workers,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein noted. “This is a troubling and thoughtless violation of state law, which must be remedied immediately.”
“It is an employer’s responsibility, under the law, to ensure that their employees have adequate coverage while at work,” noted Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer. “Unfortunately, when an employer fails to correctly recognize their workers as an employee of the company, should an individual get hurt while on the job or laid off, ultimately our state’s taxpayers foot the bill. Our job is to protect workers, as well as the law-abiding employers that do play by the rules.”
The Departments of Labor and Consumer Protection periodically carry out joint inspections at worksites throughout the state. Consumer Protection conducts occupational licensing compliance inspections to ensure that trades people performing work in Connecticut are properly supervised and have competence in their chosen occupation while the Labor Department checks for worker’s compensation coverage and reviews payroll records and timesheets to ensure wages are paid according to state and federal law.
In addition to the daily $300 civil penalty assessed for each Stop Work order, the Labor Department can also pursue criminal charges under a Class D felony for failure to have worker’s compensation or for misclassification activities. This can result in up to a $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison.
Consumer Protection can also levy civil penalties. Engaging in work or an occupation for which a license or apprentice registration certificate is required without having such credential, or willfully employing or supplying for employment a person who does not have the required license or certificate, each carry a civil penalty of $1,000 for the first violation, $1,500 for the second violation, and $3,000 for each subsequent violation.
The Departments of Consumer Protection and Labor will hear arguments from the accused companies and individuals and will consider appropriate sanctions. Companies issued a Stop Work Order by the Labor Department have 10 days to appeal the decision. Once a cited employer provides proof of appropriate coverage, work at that site is allowed to resume.
The Labor Department has developed an online site to help educate the public and members of the business community about misclassifications laws. Located under the agency’s website at www.ct.gov/dol, it also provides contact information for those wishing to report any suspicions of misclassification or seeking guidance.
“This incident is also an important reminder of the importance of checking the credentials of every contractor before they perform any work,” Palmer said. “In light of the devastation resulting from Hurricane Sandy and the rebuilding that will be taking place, homeowners and businesses are urged to request proof of proper credentials.”
“If there are any doubts as to whether a contractor or business is operating with unlicensed workers, or if a homeowner or business has questions about how to check for licenses, they are urged to contact Consumer Protection for assistance,” Rubenstein added. Licenses can be verified online at the Department’s website www.ct.gov/dcp, or consumers can call 1-800-842-2649.
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