BOSTON — More than 300 companies were cited for violating state labor laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, according to data from the attorney general's office.
The office's Fair Labor Division issued more than 700 citations in 2020, totaling more than $12.5 million, to companies across a range of industries, according to a report filed with the state Legislature and a review of the agency's data. They included construction businesses, hotels and restaurants, security firms, nail salons, bakeries and landscapers.
Construction companies accounted for a large number of the violations, or about 27%, according to the report. The division issued 182 citations against 76 construction employers for violating wage and hour and prevailing wage laws, recovering about $1.4 million in restitution for nearly 600 workers.
For example, AM Enterprises Corp., a Lawrence-based builder, was fined $50,000 in February 2020 stemming from citations for failure to keep accurate records and failure to pay a prevailing wage, according to attorney general's office records.
Methuen-based AD Contracting Services Corp. was fined $65,220 in October for nonpayment of wages, not paying overtime and failing to keep accurate records.
Salisbury Beach Restaurant Associates, a Newburyport hotel and restaurant business, was fined $3,894 in January 2020 for citations for violating child labor laws, nonpayment of wages, and violations of the state's new Paid Family and Medical Leave law, the attorney general's office said.
Maestro Connections Health Systems LLC, a Lawrence-based home care agency that works throughout the North Shore, was fined $231,851 in November for failure to pay wages, according to the attorney general's office.
None of the companies returned phone calls seeking comment about the alleged violations. Details about how the citations were handled, or if they were appealed, were not included in the attorney general's report.
Meanwhile, the attorney general's office "debarred" at least 14 companies from seeking state contracts after they failed to pay citations for previous labor law violations.
Among those temporarily frozen from state contracts was Lowell-based Fiber Control Inc., an asbestos removal company, that worked on a number of projects, including at Willis Thorpe Elementary School in Danvers.
The attorney general's office said the company ignored nearly $500,000 in citations for violating state wage laws on publicly funded projects between 2017 and 2019, and submitted payroll records falsely claiming workers had been paid prevailing wages. Fiber Control is banned from bidding on state contracts until October. The company did not respond to a call seeking comment.
The Fair Labor Division also referred 113 payroll fraud cases to the Massachusetts Council on the Underground Economy to investigate potential insurance fraud and tax evasion.
In a statement, Attorney General Maura Healey said enforcement actions reflect the division's efforts toward "ensuring a level playing field for honest employers and that workers are paid the wages they earn."
"We have also prioritized educating both workers and employers in the construction industry about their rights and responsibilities under the law, and have partnered with industry groups, workers rights organizations and labor unions to curb abuses," Healey said.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites.