Clay company ordered to pay $380,000 in back wages to 300 workers

drywall installationFrom Syracuse.com  — “A Syracuse area contractor has been ordered to pay $380,000 in back wages to more than 300 drywall installers that federal officials said were misclassified as independent contractors.

The U.S. Department of Labor sued General Interior Systems Inc., of Clay, in U.S. District Court in Syracuse in 2008, alleging the company misclassified employees to avoid paying overtime and other benefits.

GIS and its owner and president, Jeffrey Mento, admitted to the misclassification and agreed to pay back wages in a settlement with the DOL in August last year.

DOL spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said the department was making the settlement public now to highlight the issue of misclassification and to seek the public’s help in finding the employees who are owed the back wages. Some of the 300 workers have moved and left no forwarding address, he said.

“We don’t want employers to be taking advantage of workers,” he said. “It’s been something the department has seen. It’s made it a priority.”

The employees, who worked throughout central New York and the Northeast, put in as many as 60 to 70 hours per week with regularity between July 29, 2005, and July 29, 2008, but were paid straight time instead of time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, the department said….”

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