Boston, MA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A cleaning and janitorial services company and its president will pay $335,000 in restitution and penalties for misclassifying its workers as independent contractors and for violating the earned sick time law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG's Office issued four citations against United Services Group Inc. (USG), a company formerly responsible for providing janitorial services at all Massachusetts Whole Foods locations, and its president and treasurer Edivaldo Reis, for misclassifying its workers as independent contractors and for failing to maintain an earned sick leave policy, furnish a suitable pay stub, and maintain true and accurate records.
“Employers who misclassify their employees are cheating their workers and gaining an unfair advantage over businesses that play by the rules,” said AG Healey. “We thank these workers for coming forward and speaking up for themselves and their co-workers. We encourage all workers to contact our office if they aren't being paid fairly.”
The AG's Office began its investigation after receiving a referral from Greater Boston Legal Services, Metrowest Worker Center – Casa, and the Brazilian Women's Group. The investigation revealed that USG failed to keep complete payroll or timekeeping records and paid many of its employees as independent contractors through a shell company that Reis operated. Investigators also discovered that the company did not have a sick time policy.
The earned sick time law allows for workers to use up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year if they (or their child, spouse, parent, or spouse's parent) are sick or injured or have a routine medical appointment.
Through the course of the investigation, Reis admitted the employees were his and agreed to pay restitution and penalties.
Whole Foods has terminated its contract with the company.
In Massachusetts, there is a presumption that all workers are employees and therefore entitled to certain protections and benefits under the law.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer and Investigator Soledad Aylward of the AG's Fair Labor Division.