Bryan Cohen Aug. 9, 2013, 5:25pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday an agreement with a masonry contractor and its owners for allegedly underpaying masonry workers on a publicly funded senior housing facility project.

Masonry Services Inc. and its owners, James Herrera and Jaime Herrera, allegedly paid masonry workers between $8 and $23 an hour for work on the St. Marks Project, far below the applicable prevailing wage rates.

MSI also allegedly failed to pay overtime to workers despite the workers regularly working more than 40 hours per week.

"My office will continue to pursue contractors who illegally underpay workers, whether it's on a small scale or in a larger settlement like this one," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Contractors who work on publicly-funded affordable housing projects must comply with all applicable laws, plain and simple. MSI will be held accountable for failing to meet its obligations to hard-working New Yorkers, in addition to paying back the wages owed to its workers."

Because the St. Marks Project received public funding, MSI was required to pay workers the prevailing wage. Construction work performed for public agencies requires an hourly rate that is significantly higher than the state and federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, in addition to certain added benefits.

Under the terms of the agreement, MSI must pay back wages of $575,000 and $25,000 in costs.

MSI and the Herreras must also pay for independent monitoring of the company's labor practices on public and private construction projects for three years.

If MSI or the Herreras violate any future public works regulations, they will be placed on the New York state debarment list, preventing them from working on New York state public works projects for five years.

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