Although its leadership has been implicated in a worker trafficking scheme, a company that handled subcontracting work for home projects in the area seems to continue to enjoy the favor of the Twin Cities area’s largest home-builder. It recently came to light that this home-builder was affiliated with the impugned company, a company whose owner was recently arrested and accused of labor trafficking. For those who are unaware, labor trafficking can refer to the practice of using undocumented immigrant labor for construction projects, and then using their status as a threat to keep them from demanding their rights as workers.
For its part, the homebuilder dodged responsibility, saying that the company in question was actually retained by one of the homebuilder’s subcontractors, meaning, in effect, that the company is simply too far down the chain of responsibility for the homebuilder to be blamed.
The company in question has had a history of skirting around state and federal labor laws. The company has recently been fined by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety violations. It has also recently been penalized for misclassifying workers, an allegation that could relate to calling its employees, who are entitled to full protection and benefits, independent contractors, who are not so entitled.
There is evidence suggesting that many construction workers who got hurt on the job were threatened with deportation if they reported their injuries and tried to claims workers’ compensation benefits. In one case, a worker was instead offered a professional massage after the worker suffered a significant back injury.
This story serves as important reminder that some employers in Minnesota do whatever they can, even if it means violating the law, to keep their workers’ compensation costs low. Workers who get hurt must take the necessary steps to stand up for their rights and file for the benefits they deserve.