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Construction workers at towering hotel seek fair wages

Those who live and work in Nashville have likely noticed the construction of the multi-million dollar JW Marriot hotel in the downtown area. The lush 33-story building may attract celebrities from the entertainment world, but recently it has attracted the attention of many who share the concerns of workers fighting for fair wages. While the tallest structure in downtown cost about $285 million, many workers say the subcontractors on the project failed to pay them for their labor.

For the last two weeks of the build, about 150 workers claim they worked 11-hour days to complete the drywall phase of the construction. Their employers apparently paid them $20 an hour for the drywall installation, but the workers never received time-and-a-half wages required by law for overtime hours. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for construction workers in the south. In fact, over 10 percent of laborers are victims of some form of wage theft, from denial of overtime to misclassification.

In addition to the lack of overtime pay, the Nashville workers claim the companies misclassified them as independent contractors for tax purposes, which is a violation of federal labor law. They claim that anyone who questioned the wage policy was fired. Those who were fired never received their last two weeks of pay.

Because labor laws can be complicated, it is often difficult for workers to know how to fight for what they deserve. This may be especially true if language barriers exist. Reaching out for legal assistance is a good way for Tennessee workers to obtain the guidance they need for seeking justice and fair wages.