BOSS WATCH: 4/19 - 4/26
Updated On: May 14, 2024


By JACOB MORRISON | April 29, 2024


Illegal activities of Southern Bosses for the weeks between Friday, April 19 and Friday, April 26


—FLORIDA KILLERS I—

Federal workplace safety investigators have determined that a Tampa-area construction contractor could have prevented a 37-year-old aerial lift operator from suffering fatal injuries after being struck by a boom as a crane tipped over during work on an Orlando highway ramp in October 2023.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the incident occurred while employees of Concrete Impressions of Florida Inc. in Tampa and Adcock Cranes Inc. in Plant City installed precast concrete sound barrier panels on the southbound SR-417 ramp. 

OSHA determined the Concrete Impressions operator was working in an aerial lift as a 10,700-pound panel was being lifted into place by an Adcock Cranes employee. During the process, an outrigger gave way and tipped the 110 Liebherr crane toward a slope, which struck the employee on a lift in the crane’s swing radius. 

OSHA cited Adcock Cranes with one serious violation for not ensuring the ground conditions were adequate to support the crane while lifting sound barrier panels. 

The agency proposed $16,131 in penalties for Adcock Cranes

The agency also cited Concrete Impressions of Florida with one serious violation for allowing workers to take apart and use extension ladders to reach sound barrier panels and one other-than-serious violation for the contractor not documenting the required 12-month record of the inspections of a chain used to lift sound barrier panels. The agency has proposed $4,839 in penalties for the employer.

Construction safety standards that prevent workplace incidents involving mobile, overhead and rail-mounted cranes are industry standards; they were enacted following a high rate of injuries and fatalities related to crane operation in the construction industry. The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 12 crane operators died in 2022.

—FLORIDA KILLERS II—

Making the trip from Mexico to South Florida, a 26-year-old man arrived in September 2023, ready to start a new job on a sugar cane farm in Belle Glade. Four days later, he suffered fatal heat-related injuries while working in an open field as the heat index reached 97 degrees.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that McNeill Labor Management Inc. of Belle Glade, the farm labor contractor who hired the young man under the federal H-2A program for temporary or seasonal nonimmigrant workers, could have prevented his death by implementing safety rules to protect workers from heat-related hazards. These include using an effective plan to help workers acclimate to the weather conditions.  

OSHA investigators learned the worker, sitting atop stacks of sugar cane on a trailer as he tossed them to the ground for planting, began experiencing symptoms consistent with heat-related illness and complaining of not feeling well. Shortly after, he collapsed.

The field in which he worked is about an hour west of West Palm Beach, 20 minutes from the closest road and 22 miles from the hospital to which he was transported and where he later died, stricken by heatstroke. 

As average temperatures rise across the U.S., heat illness is a growing safety and health concern for workers, both indoors and outdoors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that environmental heat exposure claimed the lives of 36 workers in 2021 and 56 in 2020.

After its investigation, OSHA cited McNeill Labor with one serious violation for exposing workers to hazards associated with high ambient heat while working in direct sunlight. Federal investigators also found that the employer did not report the worker’s hospitalization or eventual death, both of which the law requires be reported. McNeill Labor Management faces $27,655 in proposed penalties, an amount set by federal statute.

The company is contesting the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

—ALABAMA DISCRIMINATORS—

Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc., a group of car dealerships, has agreed to pay $325,000 and provide other relief to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit alleging that the Texarkana, Texas-based company fired a senior sales executive to avoid medical costs related to his cancer diagnosis, the federal agency announced today.

According to the lawsuit, Greg Orr Auto fired the 65-year-old employee in February 2020 without prior warning and informed him that his health insurance coverage would end, effective immediately. The EEOC contended this came shortly after the worker received billing statements for a costly surgery to treat a serious cancer. The suit alleged that Greg Orr Auto knew the company would be exposed to the employee’s ongoing healthcare expenses under its self-insured employee health care plan and therefore replaced him with a significantly younger worker in his mid-30s.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibit employers from discriminating based on disability or age (age 40 or older). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc., Case No. 5:23-cv-00097) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre‑litigation resolution through its administrative conciliation process.

As part of the consent decree settling the case, Greg Orr Auto agreed to update its anti-discrimination policies and to provide its upper management with training on disability and age discrimination.

—VIRGINIA THIEVES—

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment in federal court that orders a Virginia concrete contractor to pay nearly $1.2 million in back wages, damages and penalties after its investigation found the employer misclassified 29 employees as independent contractors and failed to pay proper overtime to its employees.

The action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of Village Concrete Inc., a Manassas employer that allegedly misclassified the affected employees as independent contractors. By doing so, the employer failed to pay required overtime rates for hourly, day-rate and salaried workers.

The division also found the company allegedly falsified records to make it appear they had paid workers overtime, wrongly categorized salaried employees as exempt from overtime and denied employees pay for distances traveled related to work. In addition, Village Concrete failed to keep accurate records of the hours employees worked and compensation the company paid them. 
The consent judgment requires the employer to pay 81 employees $563,938 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, bars Village Concrete from future Fair Labor Standards Act violations and affirms civil money penalties of $67,473 the department assessed for the employer’s willful violations.

—DISHONORABLE MENTIONS—

  • Paredes Inc. – a mobile home transportation company in Maxwell, TX operating as Superior Service – misclassified 32 laborers and drivers as independent contractors when, in fact, the division determined they are employees. Investigators found Paredes violated federal law by failing to pay the required time and one-half its employees’ hourly wages for hours over 40 per workweek, and by not keeping federally required records. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor revored $84,740 in stolen wages.

  • A contractor with a history of failing to protect employees working in trenches from potentially deadly harm - Giant Construction Corporation in Tiyan, Guam - faces penalties of more than $1 million after federal investigators found employees working in trenches deeper than 5 feet without required safety equipment. This is the 6th OSHA inspection of the company since 2014, and it has been cited multiple times related to trench safety. 

  • An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Day-Debut Mechanical Inc., a federal subcontractor on the Paxton Apartments construction project in the District of Columbia, misclassified nine sheet metal workers and insulators as laborers. By doing so, the employer did not pay them the proper prevailing wages and fringe benefits in violation of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. The division also determined Day-Debut had incomplete payroll records, submitted falsified payrolls and failed to provide required records, all violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The division recovered $20,921 to back wages and $13,221 in fringe benefits for nine employees.

  •  A series of U.S. Department of Labor investigations at seven Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers franchise locations in Alabama has found the operator employed 149 children under age 16 to work longer and later than legally permitted by federal child labor provisions and tasked a 15-year-old child to illegally operate a manual deep fryer. The department assessed the employer with $119,029 in civil money penalties to resolve its child labor violations


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