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Complaints say Cornerstone paid workers unfairly

A Hillsboro janitorial company is under investigation by a state agency over allegations that it shortchanged employees who were working on government projects.

The Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) has opened two separate investigations into Cornerstone Janitorial of Hillsboro based on complaints the company failed to pay prevailing wages for the projects. The two complaints were filed by Hoffman Construction Company of Oregon in October and November respectively.

The complaints allege that Cornerstone failed to pay prevailing wages for cleanup jobs at building projects at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus and at the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City.

Hoffman worked on both projects, which began during the summer and went into the fall.

The complaints state that Hoffman personnel were told by employees of Cornerstone they were not receiving the prevailing wages for the projects. A prevailing wage is the hourly rate paid to workers on government contracts that’s meant to mirror the amount typically earned by workers in the region. The complaints state that workers were paid $10 to $13 an hour when the prevailing wage was more than $34 an hour.

Cornerstone paid its workers in cash, according to the complaints, after some workers requested that the company do so because they did not have bank accounts and would have to pay a check-cashing fee or be unable to access their money. The owner of Cornerstone signed certified payroll report documents that the prevailing wage was paid to workers, according to the complaints.

Charlie Burr, BOLI communications director, said Cornerstone had a civil rights complaint filed against it four years ago, but that it was closed after the complainant failed to cooperate in the investigation.

Debbie Bridge, a Hoffman employee who signed off on the complaints, didn’t return phone calls by press time. Cornerstone declined to comment on the allegations.

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