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Judge Upholds Findings; Concrete Sub V&V Construction, Inc., Under Prime, Hamel Builders, Inc., Owes 186K to 55 Craft-Misclassified Workers at DC DHCD's Liberty Place Apts Affordable Housing Project

V&V Construction, Inc. and owners wrongly classified employees, falsified records

On May 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) released that an administrative law judge upheld the findings of a DOL investigation into the employment practices of Bowie, Maryland concrete subcontractor, V&V Construction, Inc. ("V&V"), and its owners, which found the employers submitted falsified payroll records and wrongly craft-misclassified workers, failing to pay prevailing wage and overtime rates for construction of the federally-funded Liberty Place Apartments affordable housing project (“Liberty Place”) at 881 3rd St NW, Washington, D.C., in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood of Ward 6.  D.C.’s Department of Housing & Community Development (“DC DHCD”) awarded the project to a development partnership formed by National Housing Trust – Enterprise Preservation Corporation and IBF Development.  V&V was a 1st tier subcontractor under prime contractor, Hamel Builders, Inc., to perform concrete installation at Liberty Place pursuant to DC DHCD contract number 2018-14.      

The action follows an investigation by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division into V&V and its owners, Carlos and Cristina Vicente, which determined the employers incorrectly classified journey workers as skilled laborers and, by doing so, underpaid them hourly wages and fringe benefits in violation of the Davis-Bacon Related Acts (“DBRA”), including for overtime hours, in violation of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.  Investigators also found that V&V incorrectly paid workers a split rate of 25 hours per week as full journey workers and 15 hours per week as skilled laborers.  Beyond the additional finding of submitting falsified payroll records in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 5.5(a)(3), investigators also determined that V&V failed to prove it displayed the required worksite posters.  The company’s workers performed the concrete installation at Liberty Place in August 2018.

On July 23, 2021, DOL issued a Notification Letter to V&V and its owners detailing they owed $195,492 in back wages to 55 workers for DBRA violations, but V&V failed to make any payments and requested a hearing with the Office of Administrative Law Judges.  The DOL’s Office of the Solicitor reached a settlement with the employers to resolve the matter without further litigation. 

“The employers wrongly classified and underpaid journey workers as laborers and then segregated work hours inaccurately, denying workers a significant amount of wages and fringe benefits,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Roberto Melendez in Richmond, Virginia.  “The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that federal investments in construction projects result in the creation of good jobs defined by strong labor standards.  We encourage employers awarded federal contracts to contact us for compliance assistance to avoid violations like those in this case.”

Consent findings issued by Judge Theodore Annos with the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington upheld the investigation conclusions and ordered V&V and its owners to pay $186,124 in back wages to the affected employees.  As part of the settlement, the employers agreed to enhanced compliance, including 18 months of independent monitoring of DBRA contracts to ensure future compliance.   

“Federally funded projects require employers to comply with the law. When they fail to do so, we will hold them legally accountable to ensure workers are properly classified and not deprived of their hard-earned wages and benefits,” said Acting Regional Solicitor of Labor Samantha Thomas in Philadelphia.

Completed in 2020, financing for Liberty Place included funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded to DC DHCD.


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