CTNJ File Photo
Gov. Malloy and Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer (CTNJ File Photo)

With Labor Day weekend beginning Friday, state officials announced the Labor Department’s recovery of $6.5 million in workers’ unpaid wages during the last fiscal year.

In a statement, Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer said her agency’s investigators found almost $900,000 for workers who were not paid the state’s minimum wage or for overtime work. They recovered $1.9 million in money owed to underpaid workers at government contract construction sites.

Gary K. Pechie, head of the agency’s wage and workplace standards division, said more than half the amount recovered came from the department’s general wage enforcement, where the agency found $3.6 million in owed wages.

“The bulk of our work is from people filing individual complaints because they didn’t get a paycheck or vacation pay,” he said in a phone interview.

Pechie’s division also investigated 388 labor violations during the fiscal year over issues like employers failing to keep required personnel files or breaking rules pertaining to workers under 18 years old.

The Labor Department issued 181 stop work orders to employers who weren’t appropriately compensating the workers.

“With Labor Day approaching, it is especially important to recognize the hard work accomplished by the men and women of our state and ensure they receive the wages they have earned,” Palmer said. “We have a responsibility to protect the workers of Connecticut and ensure that they are paid fairly.”

In a statement, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the $6.5 million collected over the last year represents the department’s priorities.

“Working men and women should receive the wages they rightfully earned, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are paid for the jobs they do,” he said. “. . . Putting a stop to bad business practices, including the failure to pay fair wages, helps our workers as well as the entire state economy.”

The department has recovered similar sums of money in recent years. It returned around $5.5 million to underpaid workers in 2012 and about $6 million in 2011, according to a press release.