Nebraska Department of Labor investigators are making surprise inspections at an Omaha renovation site. The investigators have been going floor to floor at the Farm Credit building 19th and Douglas asking workers for name address and other personal information.
The state wants to find out if all contractors and subcontractors there are paying into the unemployment fund. Labor investigator Melissa Rodriguez said, “If people get laid off and they’re unemployed but nobody paid into unemployment, that just makes everybody else’s rates go higher.”
The investigator also wants to verify contractors are registered with he department of labor. That would require proof of workers comp insurance.
The investigator will compare worker information with the state labor database.
She’ll be looking for any evidence of workers being paid as independent contractors by a company trying to avoid unemployment taxes.
Project general contractor Todd Heston welcomes the labor department inspectors on site. Heston said, “I think it’s a good idea. I think we need to make sure everybody on job sites are registered and paying in to Uncle Sam like they’re supposed to.”
The Nebraska Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang has the power to fine any contract or subcontractor $500 each time a worker is found to be mis-classified to avoid labor taxes. That’s for a first offense. The penalties jump to $5,000 for a second or more violation.