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Beware of Worker Misclassification with Subcontractors

Have you been incorrectly classified as a contractor? If you work in the construction industry for subcontractors either by taking on jobs when they need you or working full-time, beware of how they classify you. The job title they assign you could mean less money in your pocket and if you are misclassified as an independent contractor, more likely than not, you are not being paid overtime to which you may be entitled as a properly classified employee. Unfortunately, this type of cost cutting happens all of the time.

Misclassification Leads to Thousands in Unpaid Wages

The US Department of Labor recently ordered Electrical Contracting Company of Norfolk to pay $87,000 worth of back pay and overtime to several employees who worked on a school project. They were misclassified as “general laborers” instead of electricians, which allowed the company to pay them at a lower rate.

An investigation found that these workers were owed much more including the additional wages, unpaid overtime, and health and welfare fringe benefits. These positions were governed by the federal Davis-Bacon Act, a stipulation on the $6.5 million the school system received to help build the new Page Middle School, and the job title assigned to the workers resulted in a significantly lower hourly rate.

The wages were ordered to be paid in January and have since been paid in full. Since this is the company’s first noted violation, their license was not suspended.

When projects of this magnitude are awarded and paid — at least in part — with federal funds, the government requires federal minimum wage regulations as well as prevailing wage determinations be included. Failure to adhere to these stipulations can be costly for the subcontracting company.

This is not a question that can be answered without a thorough investigation. That is, why, if you think there’s a possibility you were not paid correctly, you should seek the help of a seasoned employment attorney.


There are a number of areas in which you could be owed money.


  • Your position may have been incorrectly classified at a lower pay grade.
  • Your hours may have been incorrectly calculated.
  • You may have been paid “off-the-clock” so that your work hours would remain under forty (40) per week.
  • You may not have received the benefits you were eligible for or you could have been incorrectly classified as an independent contractor.

Speaking with an attorney will help you understand the full potential of what your employer may have withheld.

Your wages should not be impacted by a company’s efforts to cut costs and the construction industry is particularly susceptible to these sorts of illegal practices. Big companies often count the fact that employees and “subcontracted employees” may not know their rights under the law and will not do anything to challenge their practices. But you’re not alone.

If you believe there are some unscrupulous payment practices occurring on your current job or in any of your previous positions, seek legal advice from a knowledgeable employment law attorney who can help you get to the bottom of things.

Contact someone with your rights in mind. From unpaid wages to employee misclassifications, Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. can help. Call us today to discuss your potential case. The initial consultation is free.

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