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cueLegislation that took effect in March makes permanent the Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy (JTF) which has recovered more than $76 million from unscrupulous employers since its inception in 2008. Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II announced some of the new members on the Council on the Underground Economy (CUE) and released the JTF 2014 Annual Report.

When employers engage in the fraudulent employment practices of the underground economy, workers are denied basic workplace rights and protections, consumers are subject to unregulated goods and services, legitimate businesses are put at a disadvantage and the Commonwealth loses revenue. The Task Force was first established by Executive Order to bring together multiple state and federal agencies to share information and work cooperatively in investigating and prosecuting those employers who violate labor, licensing and tax laws.

Last year, the JTF recovered a record $20.1 million in unpaid wages, back taxes, unemployment insurance premiums, fines and penalties. The JTF received 122 direct tips through the tip line and online referral service along with hundreds of complaints made directly to partner agencies. In addition to 21,000 compliance checks, the JTF’s investigative work included 73 stop work orders issued by DIA, 28 civil citations through the AGO and 120 DOR investigations. Through its case referrals, DUA identified over 450 misclassified workers and $5.5 million in unreported wages.

“This is an important and effective mechanism for leveling the playing field for thousands of legitimate employers who face unfair competition from unscrupulous businesses engaged in the underground economy,” said Secretary Walker. “These coordinated and comprehensive enforcement efforts also help protect workers’ rights.”

Workers who believe that their rights have been violated and businesses who suspect they are at an economic disadvantage because of unscrupulous competitors are urged to call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465, the CUE Referral Line at 877-965-2267, email tips to cue@state.ma.us or submit complaints at www.mass.gov/cue.

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Council on the Underground Economy

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