Labor Department discovers undocumented workers during surprise visit.
Two construction companies working on UConn’s new $32 million basketball facility could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines after a surprise visit from the Department of Labor reportedly turned up workplace violations and resulted in stop-work orders at the site.
Inspectors visited the construction site Saturday after learning about possible violations on the job. The Dept. of Labor subsequently issued stop-work orders pertaining to two subcontractors working at the site: Intex of Glastonbury and J&V Construction of East Hartford.
University officials and the Dept. of Labor said the subcontractors had been brought in to help with carpentry and tape together the edges of Sheetrock. They had been on site for about six months.
According to the Dept. of Labor, about 20 of the subcontractors’ employees were not listed on payroll and were being paid cash to avoid state taxes.
Undocumented workers were also found on site; Dept. of Labor representatives said many employees didn’t speak English and didn’t have social security numbers. Some took off running when inspectors approached them.
A spokesperson for the university said Daniel O’Connell’s Sons, the general contractor in charge of the site, was not aware of the violations prior to inspection and has not been affected by the stop-work orders.
“Neither UConn nor its general contractor were aware of the violations alleged by the Department of Labor, nor would we condone any such work practices,” said a spokesperson for UConn.
State Sen. Catherine Osten, of Sprague, who serves as the Senate chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“I applaud the state Department of Labor for its investigation and findings against these two private-sector firms. Connecticut has labor laws in place to protect the safety and livelihood of working men and women in this state, and anyone who takes advantage of their employees by underpaying them and avoiding state taxes and workers compensation costs should be held accountable for their deceit. In fact, the Labor Committee has already raised a bill this year (HB 5071) that would provide for double damages against employers who do exactly what these two private-sector firms are accused of doing."