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BMHC sued by construction workers

A Pasadena, Calif., law firm has filed suit on behalf of several construction workers who claim they were frequently shortchanged on wages while working for SelectBuild, the former construction services division of BMHC. Plaintiffs from California, Arizona and Nevada are seeking class action status for the case, filed Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit was announced yesterday during news conferences held in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). The union said it has been investigating SelectBuild’s employment practices in these states and found “pervasive” wage and hour violations. SelectBuild employees were routinely asked to sign blank timecards or timecards that understated their hours, according to the lawsuit, which gave the average amount of unpaid time as five to 15 hours per week.

In a report, also released yesterday, entitled “The Newest Victims of the Housing Market Crisis,” LIUNA places some blame on production builders who demanded price cuts and other concessions from SelectBuild and other subcontractors.

BMHC did not respond to a Home Channel News request for comments on the Sept. 23 lawsuit. But during an analyst conference on Aug. 14, CEO Robert Mellor answered an analyst’s inquiry about “sordid allegations” against the company by saying: “We are not cutting back on safety or benefits. This is a move by the union group to push their agenda.”

Mellor was referring to a LIUNA demonstration at BMHC’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Houston, where the union protested what they characterized as unfair layoffs, pay cuts and hazardous working conditions on SelectBuild job sites. Concurrent protests were also held at SelectBuild locations in Southern California and Las Vegas.