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Wage law violations cost company penalties, restitution

Missouri workers who hire through staffing agencies like Labor Ready should be aware that in the past, in this state and elsewhere around the nation, the company failed to pay its workers the "prevailing wage" rates when they worked on public work projects like maintaining or construction of public buildings. The industrial staffing firm TrueBlue Inc. is the parent company of Labor Ready.

In an out-of-state case that occurred two years ago, one of their labor offices sent two workers to a construction site of a school. They failed to identify the site as a public work project and pay the considerably higher prevailing wage rates. Instead, the laborers earned only $8 an hour for their efforts.

The prevailing wage laws on both the state and federal levels mandate that contractors for government projects pay wages and provide benefits that are on par with local average wages for various trades. These wages usually are a good bit higher than minimum wage.

Due to Labor Ready's failure to abide by those provisions, they have now agreed to set up a program across the nation for the job placement employees to learn about laws requiring prevailing wage rates. Additionally, the two workers will each receive restitution of $10,000 and Labor Ready will pay penalties of $10,000.

TrueBlue released a statement saying, in part, "While we regret that there was an error and two people were mis-paid, we are pleased that the 17-month investigation uncovered no other issues."

Because of the complexities involved with prevailing wage laws in various states and on the federal level, companies must invest in adequate training for their staffing employees to make sure they remain in compliance with the laws. Honest mistakes can certainly occur, but the Missouri worker should never be the one to absorb the cost.

In cases where non-compliance is suspected, workers can notify the Attorney General's office or speak to an employment law professional.

Source: Staffing Industry Analysts, "Labor Ready agrees to train staff on prevailing wage rates" Jul. 17, 2014

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