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The Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) has issued stop-work orders to cleaning contractors at 18 ShopRite, Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods Markets stores in the state after receiving complaints from several employees of the contractors that they hadn’t been paid properly or were owed wages for working overtime. Interviews by DOL's Wage and Workplace Standards Division revealed that some were working seven days a week without overtime.
The stores are located in Canton, Clinton, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Hartford, Madison, Manchester, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, South Windsor, Torrington, West Hartford and Winstead.
The Wage and Workplace Standards Division determined that the contractors didn’t have Connecticut workers’ compensation coverage or unemployment coverage. The contractors were further cited for incorrectly treating their workers as independent contractors. In all, 23 employees provided cleaning services at the stores. The contractors that received the stop-work orders were Paraiba Cleaning Corp., of Worcester, Mass., and USD Cleaning LLC, of Hartford, Conn.
“Unfortunately, this is a situation where employees are not being provided the proper workplace protections that are the right of every working person,” said State Labor Commissioner Scott D. Jackson. “These employers are not only taking unfair advantage of their employees, but they are also hurting our state by not paying the proper taxes or providing unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. This is an unacceptable way to do business in Connecticut because our workers are not protected should they get hurt on the job or become unemployed. Ultimately, state taxpayers are burdened with the cost of protecting these employees, creating a financial loss for Connecticut’s residents and those employers that do play by the rules.”
When a stop-work order is issued, the company can resume work if it provides proof that all deficiencies have been corrected. Under Connecticut law, a company is fined $300 per worker per day for the days it has operated in violation of the law.
Wakefern Food Corp., a Keasbey, N.J.-based cooperative whose members own and operate ShopRite stores independently, told Progressive Grocer: "Paraiba Cleaning Corp. was a third party subcontracted by the stores' regular cleaning service provider. Wakefern and its cooperative members expect our vendors and suppliers to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and in accordance with the law. The owner of the two ShopRite stores that were impacted immediately shifted to another cleaning service provider upon learning of the citations from the state Department of Labor."