Three companies specializing in providing temporary workers have been fined a total of more than $80,000 for cheating hundreds of workers out of overtime pay and failing to abide by minimum wage standards. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey described the actions as a scheme.

The Massachusetts-based staffing agencies, Labor Express, Inc., LNC Labor Services, Inc., and Panha Corp. were contracted to a reusable bag factory in Lowell. Healey says they schemed to pay subminimum wages to hundreds of vulnerable factory workers, including new immigrants. “Companies that orchestrate schemes that underpay workers and violate their rights will be held accountable by my office,” Healey said.

Labor Express was fined $25,000 for failing to keep accurate payroll records and to furnish those records for inspection. Additionally, the company violated Massachusetts' labor laws. LNC Labor Services, which was hit with $20,000 in penalties, and Panha, which received the biggest fine of $37,500, had similar violations. 

The workers were hired on behalf of the company, UnWrapped Inc. Healey said it used staffing agencies to shield itself from liability and to set the low wages.  

Two months ago, UnWrapped was cited by the attorney general's office and agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution to more than 550 low wage workers. 

Healey alleges the company committed numerous wage and hour law violations and also retaliated against employees who complained. Healey said she encourages low wage workers across the state who believe their rights have been violated to call her office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.