Workers, labor union representatives, faith leaders and concerned members of the community gathered outside the new J.W. Marriott downtown on Sunday morning to protest workers' loss of wages during construction of the hotel.
The group claims more than 100 workers who built the Marriott were never paid for overtime work by certain subcontractors on the project. Others said they were not compensated for up to two weeks of work near the end of the project.
"Cases like this are far too common in the construction industry scene throughout Nashville, and we are tired of seeing, time and time again, how developers, general contractors, subcontractors and labor brokers never take responsibility for bad labor practices happening under their watch," said Diana Lopez with Worker's Dignity.
The $285 million, 33-story hotel opened in July 2018. It's located on the corner of Eighth Avenue South and Demonbreun Street.
"It is clear that there is a moral crisis in how business is conducted in Nashville," said Vanderbilt Divinity School student Crosby Palmer. "We have to stand on the side of all workers when they suffer injustices and abuses trying to earn a living to support their families. We can do better by working people and we expect Turnberry, Skanska and Mr. Drywall to do better by them, too."
A federal lawsuit was filed in June against Mr. Drywall and First Class Interiors, two subcontractors involved with the project.
The lawsuit claims the Florida-based company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to compensate workers the federal minimum wage or overtime pay (time and a half) for hours exceeding the normal 40-hour work week.
The suit alleges that the company "willfully filed fraudulent information returns [with the IRS] classifying Plaintiffs as independent contractors rather than employees. As a result, Plantiffs have been prejudiced in the amount of wages paid due to their misclassification."
Additionally, the group claims the company retaliated against workers by firing anyone who complained about their wages.