BOSTON (Legal Newsline) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Feb. 2 that Universal Drywall LLC (Universal) has agreed to a $500,000 settlement after allegations it misclassified employees on multiple public construction projects.
According to allegations, Universal and owner Richard Pelletier of Auburn, New Hampshire, violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act and False Claims Act. To save costs, the company would purportedly misclassify its workers. Workers were, therefore, allegedly unfairly paid less. This allowed the company to offer its services at a more competitive rate, allegedly.
The public projects Universal committed the alleged violations on were One North of Boston, Tahanto Regional High School and the Douglas Intermediate School.
“We found that Universal Drywall systematically misclassified its employees as independent contractors to gain an unfair advantage over honest competitors,” Healey said. “This settlement sends a clear message that wage theft will not succeed as a business strategy in Massachusetts.”
The agreement stipulates $250,000 of the $500,000 penalty will be suspended so long as Universal complies with the terms of the settlement.
The matter was handled for Massachusetts by Matthew Berge, assistant attorney general Jennifer Cotter, assistant attorney general Amber Villa, and assistant attorney general Jennifer Scully, all of Healey's Fair Labor Division.