The settlement came after several workers complained in March that their contractor, Advanced Contracting Corp., had stiffed them out of overtime wages during the projects, which they were sent to by two staffing agencies that operated out of the same basement office on Austin Street in Forest Hills.An investigation found that the laborers were paid $7.50 an hour regardless of how long they worked, Spitzer said. State federal law requires they be paid time and a half, or $11.25, for each hour worked overtime."Workers who work long hours must be paid the wages to which they are entitled," Spitzer said. "My office remains committed to aggressively looking at companies that fail to meet their responsibilities for payment of wages."According to the attorney general's investigation, Advanced Contracting did not pay the two referral agencies -- R. Friends Cleaners and Mer Sites Services -- enough money for them to give the workers the overtime to which they were entitled. The $495,876.70 settlement also holds Advanced liable for any future unpaid wages owed to hundreds of other workers referred to them by staffing agencies, Spitzer said.Advanced did not return calls made to its office in Manhattan.The two Forest Hills staffing agencies were set up to supply low-wage demolition workers. Advanced was their only client, according to Spitzer. An investigation into the agencies is continuing, he said.A message left at Mer Sites went unreturned. R. Friends could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the attorney general said a plan is being put in place to distribute the funds to laborers who were hired by Advance between Dec. 21, 1999 and March 22, 2005. He did not know the location or number of the actual projects or how many laborers have so far come forward. Any laborers who may be eligible for compensation from the settlement should contact the Attorney General's Labor Bureau at 212-416-8700.Reach reporter Zach Patberg at news@times
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