Support for small businesses to end wage theft

Our Worker Center recently resolved a wage theft case on behalf of three construction workers who were owed $2,300 in wages. In mediating the case, we recognized a need among small businesses who subcontract with larger companies and are often owed payment. 

On November 06, 2017 a worker came to our office alleging that he was owed wages from a job he performed during the summer. The company that hired this worker is a local small subcontractor company located in Chelsea. Here at the Chelsea Collaborative’s Worker Center, we take wage theft cases very seriously, especially since we have a local ordinance against wage theft in the City of Chelsea. As we did our initial intake process, the worker told us that there were two other workers who were also owed wages. We immediately invited all the workers to attend our monthly Know Your Rights training as an opportunity for them to identify their rights and violations in their workplace.

We proceeded to file three wage theft cases with the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey. On November 30, 2017, we visited the construction company and presented a demand letter along with other coalition members, volunteers, and staff. As a result, we were able to communicate and mediate with the owner of the company and we recuperated more than $2,300.00 in wages for the three workers. Through the mediation process, however, we came across another typical scenario of wage theft in which the contracting company fails to pay the subcontractor and thus the smaller subcontracting business cannot pay its workers.

Clearly in this case and many other, the root cause of the wage theft lies within the larger contracting company. We are working to hold those companies accountable and to introduce new legal protections for small businesses and local workers who are impacted by the larger companies unfair business practices. In this case, we are currently working to help the small business receive payment for work completed on Section 8 properties in August 2017. We are also working to develop new trainings and resources targeting small businesses to build the capacity of small business owners to improve management practies and help prevent future wage theft cases.