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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Labor Department claims Nashua painting firm sidestepped overtime, intimidated witnesses

NASHUA – A city painting and contracting company, Corriveau Contracting, is denying federal allegations that it underpaid workers and later “harassed and intimidated workers into signing affidavits which contained false statements.”

However, it has agreed to an injunction that, among other things, says it must read statements to workers about their labor rights and the dispute. ...

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NASHUA – A city painting and contracting company, Corriveau Contracting, is denying federal allegations that it underpaid workers and later “harassed and intimidated workers into signing affidavits which contained false statements.”

However, it has agreed to an injunction that, among other things, says it must read statements to workers about their labor rights and the dispute.

“It is the company’s hope that the dispute … will be resolved amicably. We voluntarily agreed to enter into this agreement as a reflection of its intent to be in full compliance with all applicable federal and state wage and hour laws,” said attorney Mark Broth, who is representing Corriveau Contracting, of 17 Marshall St.

As for the overall allegations, Broth said, “The company does not agree that those things happened.”

The case dates back almost two years in U.S. District Court in Concord. In September 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor sued Corriveau Contracting and several of its officials, alleging that it avoided paying overtime to many employees in various ways, such as making off-the-books payments that amounted to less than time and a half or “banking” overtime pay into the following week, where it was compensated at the regular rate.

Corriveau Contracting was started by Kevin Corriveau in 1997.

The suit alleges that business owner Kevin Corriveau and manager Sharon Mercuri “instructed employees to alter and/or rewrite numerous timecards that showed overtime hours worked, and to change the number of hours recorded on said timecards and/or rewrite said timecards to show only non-overtime hours.”

On July 25, Department of Labor officials requested a restraining order against Kevin Corriveau, Brian Corriveau and a manager, Jeffrey Levinson, “and their agents” from “retaliating or discriminating in any way against any current or former employee … or any potential witness” or from communicating with them over the lawsuit.

It also required reading aloud during work hours, in English and Spanish, employee rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act and detailing that the court has “ordered (the group) … to cease coercing, retaliating against, threatening to retaliate against, intimidating, harassing, or attempting to influence or in any way threatening employees for providing information to or cooperating with the Department of Labor.”

“Seeking and obtaining an injunction of this type is a rare and extraordinary step, but one that was warranted under the circumstances,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor for New England.

The case is scheduled to go to trial, but negotiations are continuing.

The Manchester district office of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor investigated the case. Trial attorneys from the department’s regional office in Boston are litigating the case.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least $7.25 an hour, plus time and a half their regular rate beyond 40 hours a week.

Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).