Loophole in labor law puts constuction workers at risk
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A coalition of activists, business owners and lawmakers met at the State Capitol Tuesday in hopes of closing a loophole in state law that endangers construction workers across Texas.
Angel Hurtado died when he fell from a roof eight years ago. His boss did not provide a legally-required harness. However the employer was never penalized, and Hurtado's family never received workman’s compensation benefits.
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, the federal agency tasked with enforcing labor laws, threw out its investigation into Hurtado’s death.
A spokesperson said OSHA stopped investigating because it was discovered that Hurtado was an independent subcontractor and labor laws don’t apply to those workers.
A study by the University of Texas and the Workers Defense Project found at least 40 percent of Texas construction workers are misclassified as independent subcontractors and risk sharing Hurtado’s fate.
The CEO of the construction firm Marek Brothers Stan Marek said he’s sick of seeing other companies shirk their responsibilities to their workers.
"Right now in Texas, we need to take the mis-classification issue seriously. We need to solve it,” Stan Marek said. “We need to demand of our legislators that they pass laws clarifying what is the relationship between an employer and an employee."