Six Major NYC Construction Companies Sued for Shortchanging Employees and Discriminating Against Minority Workers

NEW YORK, NY (October 15, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court against a group of six construction and contracting companies for failing to pay its employees over $4 million in wages and overtime pay, as well as for discriminating against African-American, Brazilian, and Latino employees in many terms and conditions of employment. The companies, which are all controlled by Michael Mahoney, 42, of Pearl River, include: EMC of New York, Inc; FSC Construction, LLC; FSC General Construction, LLC; BMC Construction Contractors Corporation; Eastlake Industries, Inc; and Rigid Concrete Construction. All six companies provide carpentry and concrete services at construction sites throughout New York City.

“New York is supported by the hundreds of thousands of construction workers who labor tirelessly to build and maintain this City,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “To deny workers the wages guaranteed by this State, or to discriminate against them based on race and ethnicity is a gross violation of the law and a disgraceful abuse of power. Today’s lawsuit is a message to all businesses in New York -you play by the rules or you face the legal consequences.”

According to the complaint, Mahoney’s construction companies consistently failed to pay millions of dollars in overtime wages to dozens of employees at over 10 construction sites since 2002. Though most employees often worked upwards of fifty to sixty hours a week, they allegedly were not paid the overtime rate of one and a half times their regular wage, resulting in some employees being underpaid by more than $600 per month.

The lawsuit also charges Mahoney’s construction companies with discriminating against African-American, Brazilian, and Latino employees in wages and benefits. According to the complaint, non-white workers were refused promotions, kept out of supervisory positions, denied leave, and paid lower wages for performing the same work. The Attorney General’s investigation found that non-minority employees were paid an average hourly rate of approximately $25.00; African-American employees were paid an average hourly rate of approximately $18.00; Brazilian employees were paid an average hourly rate of approximately $15.00; and Latino employees were also paid an average hourly rate of approximately $15.00 for the same work. The companies allegedly hired non-minority employees into higher-paying positions without regard to individual qualifications, or paid non-minority employees higher wages for the same type of work.

The lawsuit seeks to force EMC, Inc. and the other companies to pay the workers the unpaid overtime and other wages that they are entitled to. Further, the lawsuit seeks to reform the business practices of the companies by instituting policies and procedures to ensure that employees are lawfully compensated and are not discriminated against on the basis of race and national origin.

Federal and state labor laws require employers to keep accurate records of employees, including hours worked, and to fairly compensate employees for hours worked in excess of forty hours per week at the overtime rate of one and one-half times the regular pay rate. Further, New York civil rights laws prohibit employers from paying a wage rate differential based on an employee’s race or national origin.

This lawsuit is part of the Attorney General’s ongoing efforts to prosecute New York City employers engaged in persistent violations of wage and hour and civil rights laws, and to obtain compensation for affected workers and to stop discriminatory practices.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Mina Kim under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Patricia Kakalec from the Labor Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Sandra Abeles, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Alphonso B. David, and Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman from the Civil Rights Bureau.