BOSTON – An Allston based flooring company has been ordered to pay $26,000 in fines for misclassifying its employees as independent contractors and for record keeping violations, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. This is the second time the AG’s Office has cited Floor Sanders and Finishers of Massachusetts, Inc. (Floor Sanders) and its president, Varouj J. Nersesian, age 63, of Watertown for wage and hour violations. In April 2008, Nersesian and Floor Sanders were cited by the AG’s Office and paid $5,500 for misclassifying employees and failing to pay the prevailing wage. The company agreed to a two year debarment for those violations.These new violations are related to flooring work performed during that debarment, from November 2008 to December 2008, at the Town of Agawam’s New Senior Center Construction public works project in Agawam.
“The independent contractor law is designed to ensure that all companies conduct business on a level playing field, and our office will continue to enforce that law, whether it is a first time offense or a repeat violation,” AG Coakley said.
In March 2009, the AG’s Office received a complaint alleging that Floor Sanders had misclassified employees as independent contractors on a public works project. Investigators from the AG’s Fair Labor Division discovered that in November and December of 2008, Floor Sanders classified three of its workers as independent contractors and paid the workers with company checks. Additionally, Floor Sanders failed to maintain true and accurate payroll records, and failed to submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority for the construction project. As a result, Nersesian and his company have been ordered to pay a $26,000 penalty to the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Employee Misclassification Law provides that an individual performing any service shall be considered to be an employee unless: (1) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under his or her contract for the performance of service and in fact; and (2) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and, (3) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.
Companies that misclassify individuals deprive their workers of the many protections and benefits, both public and private, that employees enjoy. Misclassified individuals are often left without unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, misclassified individuals do not have access to employer-provided health care and are often underpaid for hours worked. The Attorney General’s Office has issued an advisory about the Employee Misclassification Law that is available on the Office’s website.
Workers who believe they have been misclassified or that their rights have been violated are strongly urged to call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website: www.massworkrights.com.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Barbara Dillon DeSouza and was investigated by Inspector Joseph Drzyzga, both of Attorney General Coakley’s Fair Labor Division.