Temp agency is warned by state
A temporary staffing agency sued by its workers for not paying overtime failed to register to do business in Massachusetts and meet requirements of a year-old law regulating these companies, according to the state Labor Department.
The Division of Labor Standards issued a warning against Job Done for not providing workers with basic information in writing about their rate of pay and location of their assignments as required by the Temporary Workers Right to Know, according to public documents.
Job Done, based in Revere, also shuttled van loads of immigrant workers from Chelsea and East Boston to a company in Billerica, charging them $4 a day, which is more than allowed under the law. A lawyer for the company did not respond to requests for comment.
The Temporary Workers Right to Know law was enacted last year to prevent unscrupulous staffing firms from exploiting immigrants and other workers. The law came in response to reports that some temp firms, typically not registered with the state, failed to pay minimum wages and overtime, exacted fees from the worker for job assignments, and transported them long distances without telling them basic information about where they were working.
The law prohibits these practices. It also requires temp agencies to inform workers about their rate of pay.
Since the law was enacted, state Labor Department officials have conducted 66 mostly random inspections of temp agencies and issued warnings to nearly half. No firms have been fined, but state officials said they have referred three cases to the attorney general’s office for enforcement action.
Job Done is not one of those three cases.
There are 978 registered job placement agencies in Massachusetts, state officials said.
“This puts them on notice,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, which advocates for workers rights. “Comply or face penalties.”
Industry advocates, pointing to Job Done, said the new law does not appear to have shut down the industry’s “bad actors,” while creating additional paperwork to meet worker notification requirements.
“It’s interesting to me that there have not been a lot of referrals to the attorney general’s office,” said Stephen Dwyer, a lawyer for the American Staffing Association. “It goes to the point that this is an industry that on the whole and by a wide margin tries to comply with the myriad of employment laws that apply to temp workers.”
The law was enacted after a sweeping 2012 US Labor Department investigation found dozens of restaurants in Massachusetts had violated labor laws and owed a total of $1.3 million in back wages to workers, including many temp workers.
One of the temp agencies supplying restaurant workers, Operations Management Group, was accused of misclassifying employees as independent contractors and not paying them overtime. The company has since gone out of business and the owner, Adilo Bosi, has “vanished to points unknown,” a US Labor Department spokesman said.
Last week, workers filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior County against Job Done and its client, Fulfillment America Inc. of Billerica, which packages marketing materials for large corporations, such as Dunkin’ Brands of Canton.
The suit alleges Job Done and Fulfillment America are both liable for any unpaid overtime. Advocates for the workers have said that Fulfillment America created the temp agency to shield it from responsibility for paying overtime and is the temp firm’s sole customer.
Lawyers for the workers estimate the employees are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime. The lawsuit alleged that Job Done manipulated pay stubs to hide that employees were working more than 40 hours a week.
John A. Donovan, a lawyer representing Fulfillment America Inc., said the company was not cited in the warning by officials.
“Fulfillment America is not involved and there is no allegation that Fulfillment America did anything wrong,” he said.