Federal Court Orders Subcontractors to Pay Over $207,000 to EJC Clients in Wage Theft Case

Gavel and Books On December 22, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the D.C. federal district court awarded over $207,000 to 13 EJC clients – all carpenters and drywall finishers – in a case under federal and stage wage laws. The case, Freddy Paz Perez, et al. v. C.R. Calderon Construction, Inc., et al., began in 2012, when the workers were referred to the EJC after not receiving the proper prevailing wages, and sometimes any pay at all, for their work on the D.C. Superior Court renovation in 2011. One of the workers, Juan Amurrio Quiroz, even loaned thousands of dollars to the subcontractor who hired him in order to keep the operation afloat, only to see his loan go unpaid as well. The EJC teamed up on the case with the Silver Spring-based litigator Omar Melehy of Melehy & Associates. Together, they took on the workers’ case against not only the lowest-level subcontractor who hired the workers, but also a higher-level subcontractor who controlled their work, and their insurance company.

After years of litigation, the case went to trial in July 2015, and all clients testified about the work they performed and their supervisors. Over a year and a half later, Judge Howell ruled that C.R. Calderon Construction and its husband-and-wife leadership were so intimately involved in the payment of and instructions given to the workers that they were “employers” under the applicable wage laws. She also concluded that the broad language of the insurance company’s bond covered not only the wages owed to the workers, but liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees as well.

Although the Defendants may appeal the decision, it is a huge step forward. After years of waiting, these workers are one step closer to each possibly receiving thousands – or tens of thousands – in owed wages. We’ll keep you updated as the case progresses.

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