NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Several construction workers, many whom are homeless, are suing a Nashville company that provides day labor to some on the city's biggest construction projects.
The lawsuit was filed in United State District Court for Middle Tennessee against Trojan Labor, located on Hermitage Avenue in Nashville.
The federal lawsuit is on behalf of John Taylor and Michael Dooley who are former employees of Trojan Labor.
The filing by the two men, and several other employees, claims that Trojan willfully failed to compensate them for hours worked and violated health and safety requirements.
"Honestly, I was very surprised, because it was the first I had heard of the news," said Trojan Labor owner Jolene Dressel.
She only learned of her former employee's discontent after the lawsuit was filed.
"Usually if there are ever any kind of employee issues we try to work them out and we had not heard about it, or had an opportunity to resolve whatever issues they may have had," Dressel said.
Trojan provides day laborers to construction companies contracted to build some of the biggest projects in Nashville, including Music City Center. Everyday the company employs between 100 and 300 workers.
"It's helpful for employers locally, for their fluctuating staffing needs, and it's helpful for those who try to find a job and but may not be able to find it without our resources. It's very rewarding to help the customers and help the employees," according to Dressel.
But the lawsuit paints a different picture of how Trojan treats its employees.
The 21-page document states employees are required to show up at the Trojan office as early as 4:00 a.m. to get in position to gain a work ticket for the day. It also said when they are made to wait, they are not paid for the time the spend at Trojan's office.
"If there's a job available, they come to work, we send them out. If they choose to sit around and wait for a job, that's an option for them. But we don't require anyone to wait or sit around for an hour," Dressel explained.
The lawsuit also claims employees were made to pay for safety equipment federal law mandates Trojan provide to workers.
"We do supply safety equipment for free, where we charge for it is when there is a replacement necessary," Dressel said.
Also listed in the complaint are issues with workers who use carpool transportation to construction sites.
Dressel, who has operated Trojan Labor for nine years, plans to fight the accusations in court.
"I definitely feel like it's unmerited," she said.
The plaintiffs are seeking back pay, compensation for safety equipment they purchased, any civil penalties allowed by law and attorneys fees.