Contractors sued over unfair treatment of Hispanics

The company, Mulcahy Inc., is being considered to work on TCF Bank Stadium.

Eight construction workers filed a suit Monday against Mulcahy Inc., a local drywall company being considered to work on TCF Bank Stadium.

The complaint alleges the company committed numerous offenses against their Hispanic immigrant employees, including unfair compensation and longer hours than other workers.

Mulcahy paid the employees a daily cash rate – which sometimes didn’t meet minimum wage – refused overtime pay and threatened workers who reported the conduct, the complaint alleges.

Download a copy of the complaint.
(PDF ~2.4 Mb)

A list of contractors on the TCF Bank Stadium Web site lists Mulcahy as a contractor for the project.

Paul Kitching, project manager for M.A. Mortenson Co., said Mulcahy was on the list because officials were “in the process getting them signed up.”

No contract between Mortenson and Mulcahy has been reached at this time, Kitching said, but he wouldn’t comment on whether the lawsuit would affect Mulcahy’s future with the project.

While its relationship with TCF Bank Stadium is undecided, the lawsuit between the workers and Mulcahy remains.

Bill O’Brien, who represents the workers, said he believes the company has been employing a “shadow workforce” of immigrant workers in order to win contracts on construction projects.

“It appears that what Mulcahy is doing is working unfairly relative to his competitors,” he said. “He’s bidding on construction jobs and using this illegal and cheap labor to underbid competitors.”

The company has been unfairly managing workers for at least a year, O’Brien said, and added this practice is not limited to Mulcahy.

“This is a practice that is being uncovered in the construction industry around the country,” he said. “Contractors (are) looking for unfair advantages by flouting the fundamental labor protections for workers.”

Richard Ross, who represents Mulcahy, said the allegations are “completely fabricated.”

“Nobody’s been paid in cash; everybody’s been paid the proper amount,” he said. “We don’t know what’s motivating them.”

Neither the workers nor their lawyers contacted the company before filing the suit, Ross said, and he’s unsure why the complaints have gone to court.

“It seems like a publicity stunt for some reason, maybe it’s the competitors, maybe it’s the union,” he said. “We don’t know.”

O’Brien said he hopes the case will send a message to construction contractors that misconduct won’t be tolerated.

“A lot of people might be surprised at the number of Latino immigrants who have come into Minnesota and are entering the workplace,” he said. “We do not want to be a billboard for exploitation of workers.”