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Painters Underpaid on Public Projects

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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A New York painting contractor with a history of labor law violations has been sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and must pay $15,000 in restitution for improperly paying workers on public projects.

Byron Haynes, 44, owner of Haynes Painting Company in Syracuse, NY, pleaded guilty to misclassifying employees as "independent contractors" to avoid paying wages required by New York.

He was arrested in September and sentenced Nov. 19, reports said.

Syracuse City Court

Byron Haynes was ordered to pay $15,000 to four employees after misclassifying them as independent contractors, officials said.

The Onondaga County District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Bids Barred

The Syracuse City Court also barred Haynes from bidding on any New York state publicly funded project as a contractor or agent of a third party, reports say.

Haynes remains in custody, detained by the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, facing unrelated federal charges.

Attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.

Misclassifying Workers

Haynes pleaded guilty to misclassifying four employees as "independent contractors," in contravention of the New York State Construction Industry Fair Play Act, to avoid paying them wages required under state law for public projects, according to reports.

The misdemeanor charge carries penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $25,000 fine and debarment from public projects for up to one year for the first offense, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

At time of his arraignment in September, he was also charged with violating the state hour, wages and supplements law, and wage-payment laws, as well as a felony count of falsifying business records, according to The Post Standard.

Earlier Violations

Haynes has been in the commercial and residential painting and drywall business for nearly 20 years and has completed numerous public-works projects.

Seneca Hall

Haynes underpaid employees who performed a painting project at the State University of New York's Seneca Hall in Oswego County, authorities said.

In November 2011, the New York Commissioner of Labor found that Haynes' company failed to comply with requirements of Article 8 of the Labor Law §220 in performing three public-work contracts from 2004 to 2006.

In those cases, documents said, Haynes paid his painters $12.50 an hour in cash, with no benefits or extra pay for weekend or holidays, when the prevailing wage ranged from $18 to $20.46 an hour, plus up to $12.29 in supplements. The hearing documents indicate civil penalities were assessed in the case, including 16 percent interest on the underpayments.

The public projects included work at the Auburn State Armory for the New York State Office of General Services in Cayuga County; State University of New York's (SUNY) Seneca Hall in Oswego County; and the Roxboro Road Middle School in Onondaga County.

"Haynes knew that its employees were not being paid the prevailing wages reflected in the certified payrolls and that this underpayment of wages constitutes a willful violation of Labor Law §220," wrote John W. Scott, the hearing officer.

For example, in the SUNY Seneca Hall Project, Haynes was found to have underpaid wages and supplements due to employees in the amount of $13,209.92.

It was also found that Haynes falsified payroll records by reporting that wages were paid at prevailing rates. The records included hours not genuinely worked, multiple employees identified as "John Doe," whiteouts, erasures, fictitious Social Security numbers and other irregularities.

The documents also mention evidence of a similar violation from 2000.

Reports at Arrest

A report at the time of Haynes arrest on the current labor law charge noted that Haynes had been "barred by the state from bidding on public works contracts," but was operating another company called "NJC Painting."

The business was reportedly started by his fiancée at the time, Nancy Cuadrado. 

NJC Painting "bid and accepted a job at the Fayetteville Manlius School District using the same employees, billing and payment practices" as Haynes Painting, William J. Fitzpatrick,  Onondaga County District Attorney told The Post-Standard.

Unrelated Federal Charge

Though the U.S District Attorney's office did not provide any details regarding the federal charge, a report from his arrest in September said he was also "arraigned on criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree."

At that time, he was being held without bail by U.S. Immigration and Customs officials, the report said.


Tagged categories: Commercial Buildings; Criminal acts; Government contracts; Labor; Laws and litigation; Painters

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