Last month, the owners of a Watertown roofing company pleaded guilty to a variety of labor violations including workers’ compensation fraud. Shaun Bryan and Antoinette Capurso-Bryan, both of Newton, admitted to violating prevailing wage laws, misclassifying employees, and committing unemployment and workers’ compensation fraud. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders sentenced Bryan to two years behind bars with the balance suspended for five years and Capurso-Bryan to two years probation and $74,000 in fines. Their company, Newton Contracting Company Inc., was also ordered to pay $150,000 in fines and $100,000 in restitution to Chartis Insurance Agency for workers’ compensation premium evasion. The roofing company and its owners are prohibited from bidding on any public construction projects for a period of five years.
According to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the roofing company and its owners misclassified millions of dollars worth of subcontractor payroll and failed to pay workers the proper prevailing wage. The company admitted to misclassifying employees as independent contractors which resulted in fewer unemployment contributions and lower workers’ compensation premiums. Prior to entry of their plea agreement, the parties paid restitution to the underpaid employees and the Division of Unemployment Assistance.
An investigation into employment practices at Newton Contracting began in 2008 after the Governor’s Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification was alerted to the company’s purported misclassification of its employees. Around the same time, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office received complaints Newton Contracting misclassified roofing workers as laborers in order to pay them a lower wage on a Suffolk County Jail contract. A 2009 compliance audit by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development resulted in $52,000 in fines after it was revealed a number of Newton Contracting employees were misclassified as independent contractors. Soon after, a Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau investigation revealed the company misclassified more than $3.4 million in subcontractor payroll.
A company’s proper classification of workers is important because it can affect whether an employee is eligible for benefits like unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act provides the only avenue of recovery for employees injured at work. Because the workers’ compensation process is complex and can be difficult to navigate, it is a good idea to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney after any workplace injury.
If you were injured in a workplace accident, contact Pulgini & Norton, LLP. Our knowledgeable Boston workers’ compensation lawyers can answer your questions and help you file your case. Our firm assists individuals who were injured at work throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To discuss your injury and learn more about workers’ compensation laws, call Pulgini & Norton at (888) 344-2046 or contact us through our website.
Framing Contractor Faces $180,000 in OSHA Fines for Workplace Safety, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2011
Wellness Programs Seen as a Way of Reducing Workers’ Compensation Costs, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2011
Watertown Roofing Company and its Owners Plead Guilty and are Sentenced for Labor Violations, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley