NEW YORK — A husband-and-wife-run construction empire that has performed work on public construction projects across New York City will have to fork over $500,000 after an investigation by the state attorney general revealed the owners were underpaying their workers.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will also continue reviewing the companies’ hiring practices for the next three years.
"There are strict rules when taxpayer dollars are used to pay private companies for public projects, but this company violated those rules, and now they will pay the price," Schneiderman said in a statement.
"Our state will not allow public funds to subsidize substandard workplaces or sit by idly as corporations profit by illegally shortchanging hardworking men and women,” Schneiderman added. “We will aggressively pursue employers who seek out public contracts yet ignore labor standards for vulnerable workers."
The companies owned by Jitendra and Sarita Hirani — including Hirani Construction Management, Hirani Consulting Inc., and Sen Construction Corp. — obtained seven construction contracts with the New York City Parks Department and the School Construction Authority between 2005 and 2008.
The projects included work on public parks in several Bronx neighborhoods, including Baychester and Hunts Point. The companies also received contracts to complete construction projects at P.S. 90, P.S. 111 and P.S. 36 in the Bronx, as well as P.S. 124 in Brooklyn.
But 11 workers on those projects reported that they were being underpaid per the terms of New York’s prevailing wage law, which requires that government contractors performing construction work pay employees more than the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
"We are so happy and thankful that we will be paid what we are owed,” a former worker said in a statement, “and that the attorney general's agreement will help make sure that, in the future, other [Hirani] employees will be paid their wages on time."