Contractors for 88 Regent St. in Jersey City fined $1.3M by state agencies for labor violations


The contractors for 88 Regent St., a Downtown Jersey City high-rise, have been fined $1.3 million for labor violations after an investigation by multiple state agencies.

88 Regent St. in Jersey City. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The joint investigation, the first of its kind among cooperating state agencies, started shortly after Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a second package of misclassification bills into law in July 2021.

The state Department of Labors’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance joined staff from the Treasury’s Division of Taxation, the Department of Banking and Insurance and the Attorney General’s Office to follow up on complaints of workers being misclassified as independent contractors or paid off-the-books while working at the construction site.

“After a hard day of work, everyone deserves to receive their full wages and benefits We will not tolerate companies and contractors that cut corners to make an extra buck. The misclassification of workers is illegal and damages the quality of life for the affected employees and their families,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement.

“We are proud to use the enhanced provisions of the 2021 amendments to the labor laws to put money back in workers’ pockets where it belongs. This sweep truly was a group effort, and I want to thank all the agencies involved for bringing justice to these workers.”

Allegations also included workers not being paid properly for overtime, and employers failing to pay appropriate taxes on purchased construction materials and not carrying workers’ compensation insurance.

“Worker misclassification and wage theft can do irreparable harm to New Jersey families. The substantial assessment of penalties and back wages is the result of the Murphy Administration’s continued commitment to protecting workers’ rights and cracking down on employee misclassification,” added  State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.

“We heartily appreciate every agency that has banded together to ensure that fair compensation and a livable wage are delivered at the end of the day.”

In conjunction with NJDOL, the Department of the Treasury’s Division of Taxation investigated 21 of the subcontractors and found that 14 had pending tax issues and one out-of-state contractor was served a jeopardy assessment warrant for non-compliance.

Investigators from the Division assessed the 14 non-compliant businesses a total of $104,092 in back taxes and have collected $46,597 to date.

The general contractor of the private construction project, Grand Street Construction of Jersey City, can be held responsible for the unlawful actions and back wages of its sub-contractors per state law.

Subcontractor P & B Partitions of West Berlin, which hired several of the other subcontractors at fault, was cited for records violations, misclassifying employees, and unpaid and late wages, and assessed more than $324,000 in penalties and fees, in addition to a $8,692 misclassification penalty to be paid to 22 of its workers. P & B Partitions is contesting that assessment.

In addition to its own violations, P & B also contracted with at least 5 other lower tier sub-contractors who also failed to properly classify their employees and pay them properly. Those violations and penalties total $237,289.63 and that liability also lies with both P & B Partitions and Grand Street since those contractors failed to challenge the alleged violations against them.

Finally, another sub-contractor on the Regent Street project, BWK Construction, LLC was also found to have failed to pay employees overtime, failed to provide them with Earned Sick Leave as required, and to have misclassified employees by paying them in cash off the books.

Grand Street was notified of those alleged violations by BWK Construction and their failure to respond to allegations which totaled some $350,171.49 in back wages, fees and penalties.

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