Contractors settle with New York for $500K

Bryan Cohen May 2, 2012, 3:15pm


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $500,000 settlement with two contractors and their companies for allegedly failing to properly pay employees working on construction projects from 2005 to 2008.

Jitendra and Sarita Hirani and their companies -- Sen Construction Corp., Hirani Consulting Inc. and Hirani Construction Management -- obtained seven large construction contracts in New York City during the time period and allegedly failed to pay employees on the projects the required prevailing wage.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hirani and Sen will pay $500,000 in restitution to the allegedly underpaid workers who reported the violations.

"There are strict rules when taxpayer dollars are used to pay private companies for public projects, but this company violated those rules, and now they will pay the price," Schneiderman said.

"Our state will not allow public funds to subsidize substandard workplaces or sit by idly as corporations profit by illegally shortchanging hardworking men and women. We will aggressively pursue employers who seek out public contracts yet ignore labor standards for vulnerable workers."

Complaints were received by the New York City School Construction Authority Office of the Inspector General, the New York City Department of Investigation and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The agencies received complaints from 11 employees in 2007 alleging underpayments at four School Construction Authority and three Parks Department projects. Schneiderman's office alleged that Hirani and Sen employees who performed construction work on the projects earned much less than the legally required hourly prevailing wage.

Under the terms of the settlement, Hirani and Sen must provide Schneiderman's office with advance notice about any bids to perform work requiring the payment of prevailing wage in the state and to give the office documentation demonstrating the payment of prevailing wage for any such bids that have been accepted. Hirani and Sen are also barred from retaliating against employees who cooperated with Schneiderman's office or who collect wages as part of the settlement. Schneiderman's office will review the employment practices of the companies for the next three years.

The prevailing wage law of New York seeks to make sure that government contractors pay wages comparable to the local standards for a particular trade. The law requires an hourly rate for construction work for public agencies that is far above the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In addition, the law requires higher wages for overtime, weekends and nights, as well as benefits.

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