Forced labor is an unfortunate reality of the construction industry. Construction companies that are buckling under the commonplace labor demands of the industry are turning to labor brokers to supplement their workforces illegally. In part one of this two-part series, a Broward contractor attorney discussed the prevalence of forced labor in the construction industry. Now, we will be discussing the punishment for forced labor and how to legally combat labor shortages. For more information on how to ensure your project’s success while remaining compliant with state and federal laws, consult with one of our Broward contractor attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
The Penalties for Forced Labor
Under 18 U.S. Code § 1581, a person committing forced labor can be fined and placed in prison for up to 20 years. However, if the violation involves aggravating circumstances, such as a victim’s death, attempted murder, kidnapping, or sexual abuse, the perpetrator can be sentenced to life in prison. This law isn’t without teeth. The owner of a construction company was recently charged with forced labor. He is accused of preying upon undocumented Mexican workers who were threatened with violence and deportation when they complained of nonpayment. If convicted, he could be fined $500,000 and receive a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Legally Meeting Labor Demands
Forced labor is obviously not the answer to the industry’s labor demands. In order to counter labor shortages, construction companies will have to work smarter. Engaging with and properly training a younger generation of workers is the most important thing that employers can do. This can be accomplished by visiting colleges and trade schools and offering millennials a clear path to steady employment. Recruiting agencies can legally supplement your current workforce while younger workers are being trained. Take steps to ensure that all workers under your command are properly classified.
Consult an Attorney
As mentioned in part one, the complex web of employment tiers on construction projects means that a subcontractor could be using forced labor unbeknownst to the other contractors involved. Under the above federal statute, a person who knowingly benefits from forced labor is just as culpable as the person committing the initial offense. Contractors that ignore signs of exploitation and fail to monitor their subcontractors are putting themselves at an unnecessary risk. If you own a construction firm and are concerned with the labor practices on your construction project, immediately contact a Broward contractor attorney at Cotney Construction Law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.