Posted December 23rd, 2019.
Relator Awarded 20% Share of Settlement for Bringing Prevailing Wage Violations to Light
December 23, 2019, NEW YORK – Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP announced that New York-based construction company Nagan Construction, Inc. and Nadir Uygan have agreed to settle a qui tam suit and pay $831,000 to the United States and New York State (the settlement against Mr. Uygan is limited to the claims brought by the State of New York).
Sanford Heisler Sharp represented Relator Soner Yasti who filed the case against Nagan Construction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the whistleblower provisions of the federal and New York State False Claims Acts in September 2017. Relator Yasti was represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Baltimore Managing Partner Deborah K. Marcuse and New York Senior Litigation Counsel and Whistleblower Practice Co-Chair Inayat Ali Hemani.
Mr. Yasti, a former employee of Nagan Construction, alleged that Nagan systematically failed to comply with the terms of its construction contracts with the federal and New York State Governments that required the company to pay its workers the prevailing wage under the Davis-Bacon Act and related laws. Mr. Yasti alleged that Nagan Construction misclassified its workers as laborers even when they performed work that entitled them to a higher wage.
Nagan Construction agreed to pay $435,000 to settle the federal claims against it, and $396,000 to settle the State claims. Of the federal recovery, $242,375.60 will be distributed to current and former Nagan employees who were underpaid by Nagan Construction. The Relator will receive a 20% share of the federal and state settlements.
The Government’s intervention and settlement focused on several construction contracts for which Nagan Construction won bids, including the Delano Hall dining facility at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, the Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, New York, and the South Bronx Job Corps Center in Bronx, New York. In addition to the wage violations, the New York State settlement covered Nagan Construction’s unlawful overcharging of the Government for construction services.
“Not only did Nagan Construction harm its employees, it also defrauded the Government and created an unfair playing field for Government contractors,” said Inayat Ali Hemani. “Leveraging the False Claims Act is an innovative way for workers to hold government contractors accountable for their wage violations.”
“Failure to honor the terms of a government contract by denying workers their rightful compensation undermines the value of such an agreement,” said Deborah K. Marcuse. “Mr. Yasti is pleased that the settlement includes payments to his fellow workers who faced hardships as a result of Nagan Construction’s practices. We are honored to have represented him and hope that others will continue to demonstrate similar courage and initiative by coming forward where they see unlawful practices in the workplace.”