A former construction worker at Alexander Station Apartments has filed a lawsuit against a contractor, Ward Mechanical LLC claiming unpaid wages that could involve dozens of current and former construction workers at the affordable housing project on Alexander Street.
The contractor, John Ward this week denied allegations of any wrongdoing. Ward, who lives in Sacramento, has been a contractor at Alexander Station for two years. He said this week that he hired employees to work an alternative workweek—four ten-hour days.
“The workers voted on an alternative workweek, to work four ten-hour days,” Ward said. “I have always paid my guys. I have already lost $400,000 on this job, which is why I never allow them to work overtime.”
“I’ve been working on wage theft cases for almost 20 years, and this has been one of the most egregious examples of wage theft,” said the worker’s attorney, Tomas Margain said. “You might see this for small home renovations, but I haven’t seen anything on this scale.”
Margain filed an amended suit on behalf of Horatio Rojo against Ward Mechanical on Jan. 18 alleging various instances of Failure to Pay Overtime Wages for Hours Worked and Failure to Provide an Itemized Wage Statement.
“When they were hired, they were asked for a bank account number, and were promised a four-day, 10-hour a day workweek,” Margain said. “People who have worked in 2017 have not got a W2 Form and no taxes have been withheld on their behalf.”
Justice at Law Group filed the suit under the Private Attorneys Act of 2004, which allows Rojo and his attorneys to act as a representative of all workers potentially damaged. The lawsuit will pursue penalties for violations of California labor codes and will seek waiting-time penalties. In addition to employees, the Private Attorneys Act allows the State of California to collect damages for violations of state labor codes.
“We have had seven to eight employees come forward with the same story,” Margain said. “They had no understanding of how they are paid.”
The suit alleges that Ward Mechanical hired Rojo and other workers illegally as independent contractors, a violation of California labor law which forbids the hiring of unlicensed contractors as independent contractors.
Ward however denies that his employees were hired as independent contractors.