Labor Department issues stop work orders at 18 CT grocery store locations

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Labor Department has issued stop work orders at 18 ShopRite, Stop and Shop and Whole Foods locations after receiving wage complaints from several workers employed by the cleaning contractors for these stores.

Employees from DOL’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division visited Connecticut stores throughout the state  and determined that the cleaning contractors did not have Connecticut workers’ compensation coverage or unemployment coverage.  The contractors were also cited for incorrectly treating their employees as independent contractors.  A total of 23 employees were providing cleaning services at the stores.

According to State Labor Commissioner Scott D. Jackson, contractors Paraiba Cleaning Corporation of Worcester, MA and USD Cleaning, LLC of Hartford were issued the stop work orders. DOL investigators visited the stores the night of July 19 after receiving complaints that the employees had not been paid properly or were owed wages for working overtime hours.  Upon interviewing the employees, it was determined that some were working seven days a week and receiving no overtime.

“Unfortunately, this is a situation where employees are not being provided the proper workplace protections that are the right of every working person,” Jackson said.  “These employers are not only taking unfair advantage of their employees, but they are also hurting our state by not paying the proper taxes or providing unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.  This is an unacceptable way to do business in Connecticut because our workers are not protected should they get hurt on the job or become unemployed.  Ultimately, state taxpayers are burdened with the cost of protecting these employees, creating a financial loss for Connecticut’s residents and those employers that do play by the rules.”

When a stop work order is issued the company is able to resume work when it can provide proof that all deficiencies have been corrected.  Under state law companies are fined $300 per worker per day for those days it has operated in violation.

The agency has issued more than 2,000 stop work orders to companies that lack proper worker coverage, misclassify workers as independent contractors or fail to keep required payroll records.

“Keeping Connecticut’s economy strong and helping employers stay in business is a main objective of the Labor Department,” Jackson added.  “For this reason, our staff is also dedicated to educating both employers and employees working in this state on the laws that are in place to help ensure a fair and safe business environment.”

Jackson urged any company doing business in Connecticut to consult the agency website at http://www.ct.gov/dol for workplace guidelines, or to contact wage staff at 860-263-6790.

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