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Contractors working on 2016 EPISD bond projects may have violated wage laws

EL PASO , Texas -- Officials with the El Paso Independent School District are looking into the possibility of contractors and subcontractors working on two multi-million dollar bond projects at Austin and Irvin High School may have violated prevailing wage laws.

In a special board meeting Friday, trustees moved to continue an investigation on the contractors and subcontractors. If the investigation finds they did violate any prevailing wage laws, the contractors and subcontractors could face a penalty.

"The Board of Trustees today made the initial determination that good cause may exist to believe a violation of the Prevailing Wage Statue occurred on behalf of the outside contractors at the EPISD Bond projects for Austin and Irvin high schools," said Gustavo Reveles, spokesman for EPISD.

"It's important to note that EPISD is not accused of violating the statue, but rather that the construction companies the District hired to perform the work are the ones facing accusations and potential fines. EPISD will continue to monitor information and documentation to further determine if violations to the wage statue did occur," Reveles said.

Trustees were informed by the Facilities and Construction department at EPISD, that a third party complaint issued Feb. 6. asked the district to confirm with subcontractors working on both projects that the appropriate prevailing wages were being issued to employees.

During the meeting Irene Ramirez, executive director for Facilities and Construction at EPISD, said the district asked contractors overseeing the projects -- Arrow Building and HB Construction, working on Austin and Irvin respectively -- for certified payroll records, time sheets and pay checks, foreman daily diaries, and the project scope of work.

Ramirez noted that not all of those documents have been submitted, but according to the both Arrow Building, HB Construction and EPISD, they are complying with the district.

Jacobs Engineering, the firm overseeing 2016 voter-approved bond projects, looked at payroll and also spoke to employees. They found that it's a possibility T-dyne, a subcontractor for Irvin's project and Suntech Mechanical, a subcontractor for Austin's project, may have misclassified three employees combined in 2019.

It's unclear what the prevailing wage is for the employees that may have been misclassifed.

T-Dyne has not responded to ABC-7's request to comment, but Suntech Mechanical told ABC-7 they are complying with the district as well.

According to Texas state government code, "A contractor or subcontractor who violates this section shall pay to the state or a political subdivision of the state on whose behalf the contract is made, $60 for each worker employed for each calendar day or part of the day that the worker is paid less than the wage rates stipulated in the contract."

Click here to watch the board meeting in its entirety.

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Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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