A Carpenter’s Experience with Payroll Fraud: Meet Isabel

A Carpenter’s Experience with Payroll Fraud: Meet Isabel

Isabel is currently a carpenter with the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters. He discussed how he was cheated out of paychecks guaranteed to him.

Imagine never being paid for the work you provide day in and day out for your employer.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for carpenters across the United States. In fact: workers are cheated out of $50 billion each year across the country.

Isabel, a 12-year construction industry veteran, was introduced to carpentry by a labor broker. Labor brokers are common in construction, working for contractors who cheat the system by hiring carpenters for as little as seven dollars an hour to work at unsafe jobsites.

That was Isabel’s experience: He worked for 15 days only to never see a single dollar paid to him. This was just the beginning of his experience with wage theft and payroll fraud.

Until recently, Isabel spent his career being paid in cash — if he was lucky enough to see money at all. He would wait, excited to take his paycheck home to his family, only to leave the job site disappointed and without payment for his work.

“You’re excited waiting to receive your check to buy what you need for your family,” Isabel said. “And then they tell you that they won’t pay you, and lie to you, when the truth is that they took all of your money.”

Isabel didn’t know what it felt like to have a job with fair pay, benefits, and workers compensation. He didn’t know what it was like to see his kids off to school or be home to eat dinner with them. All he knew was hard work and little to show for it.

“Sometimes the whole week passed without my kids being able to see me. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone because we all have a family, and we all want to spend time with them, as they want to with us.”

He hopes no one else experiences wage theft and payroll fraud like he has. Cheating contractors will not deter him from achieving his dreams.

“I know that I am never going to stop learning,” Isabel said. “I believe that a lot of people want to have that same opportunity.”

Help us put an end to stories like Isabel’s. Sign our pledge to stop defrauding carpenters of their worker’s rights and dignity.

To learn more about payroll fraud and its effects on the construction industry, watch this brief video or visit The Problem page.