Latino Construction Workers File Federal Wage Theft Lawsuit Against E&J Construction and Long Fence

Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Murphy Anderson Announce Lawsuit Against E&J Construction and Long Fence in Wage Theft Case

Greenbelt, MD—On May 10, 2024, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and co-counsel Murphy Anderson PLLC filed a wage theft lawsuit on behalf of a group of Latino construction workers against E&J General Construction, Inc. and Long Fence Company, Inc. Workers allege that they worked daily 9 to 10 hour shifts assembling and installing fences for residential construction worksites in Maryland and the District of Columbia for well below minimum wage and overtime requirements. The workers also erected security fences at the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C., sometimes working over 16 hours in a day. The lawsuit alleges that E&J, and Long Fence through its business relations with E&J, shorted Plaintiffs of the required federal, state, and local overtime and minimum wage rates and misclassified them as independent contractors, despite controlling all aspects of their work.

“We have seen this too frequently,” says Sophia Balemian-Spencer, associate counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and co-counsel for the employees. “Time and time again construction workers are not getting fully compensated for the hours they have worked.”

Wage theft is a form of fraud that happens when employers pay less than the minimum wage or do not compensate employees properly for working over 40 hours within a week. Wage theft is a contributing factor to the racial income gap. Black and Latinx workers are more likely to experience wage theft, especially in industries that are already marked by lower hourly salaries, unpredictable hours, and poorer working conditions. The DMV has high levels of job segregation, with workers of color likely to hold occupations that require manual labor and pay lower wages. Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to wage theft and other workplace violations.

The plaintiffs allege they complained to both E&J and Long Fence personnel, but no changes were made in their pay practices. Instead, Plaintiffs were met with anger and told that Defendants did not want to pay them more for their work.

“To me, this lawsuit means that justice has to be done in any job and that [workers] should be paid fairly for [their] work … in order to live with dignity,” says Daniel Herrera Reyes, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “There are people who want to take advantage of others because of their immigration or employment status by paying something unfair to enrich themselves through labor exploitation. As the saying goes, ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain,’ … the laborer is worthy of his wages. One demands what is right and just. For my part, I do not demand more or less.”


Read the filed Complaint here.


Sophia Balemian-Spencer, [email protected]

Sarah Bessell, [email protected]

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic, and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. While we fight discrimination against all people, we recognize the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity and recognize the critical importance of identifying, exposing, combatting, and dismantling the systems that sustain racial oppression.

Murphy Anderson PLLC is a Washington D.C.-based law firm representing workers, whistleblowers, and unions.

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