A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has found that Universal Drywall routinely misclassified carpenters as so-called independent contractors and failed to properly purchase workers compensation coverage. The practice meant that its insurance carrier, Travelers Property Casualty Company of America was defrauded out of more than $327,000 in premiums.
The decision brings to an end a case involving work that Universal Drywall performed on some Massachusetts sites, including Brooksby Village in Peabody, Linden Ponds in Hingham, Sherburne Commons in Nantucket and Arbor Point in Burlington. It did not cover work that Universal--an Auburn, New Hampshire-based company--performed in other New England states or at other times in Massachusetts.
Universal Drywall, which is owned and run by Richard Pelletier and Real Tanguay, is well known to the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. The union has spoken to carpenters on many sites in the region who have told they were classified as "1099s." The company attempted to protect itself from misclassification enforcement by having carpenters sign "contracts," but the court found that the company's extensive control and direction of the workers and their work meant they were employees and premiums for workers compensation were owed to Travelers.