Wage dispute over BISD work costs local electrical contractor $50K

David Yates Mar. 16, 2012, 7:37am

An agreed final judgment of $50,000 has been entered in a suit filed by Kyle Betts, an electrician who claims he deserved to earn more for his work for the Beaumont Independent School District.

As previously reported, Betts filed a lawsuit Nov. 5, 2010, in Jefferson County district Court against JJ&R Electric, a Pearland electrical contractor, claiming the company failed to pay him the prevailing wage rate while he worked for the district.

Court records show the agreed final judgment was entered Nov. 17 and states that Betts and three other additional plaintiffs receive $50,000 from the defendant.

The additional plaintiffs named in the suit are Manuel Gutierrez Jr., Jeffrey Berner and Lloyd Kern.

According to the lawsuit, Betts' $18-per-hour wage for work done for the district was below the prevailing wage.

"In addition to failing to pay the prevailing wage, Defendant falsely represented to Plaintiff and to investigating and contributing authorities that Plaintiff was an 'apprentice' and as such, eligible for a lower prevailing wage," the suit states. "In point of fact, Plaintiff was 'walking foreman' who, at times exercised supervisory control over 5-6 other electricians."

Betts alleges that in January JJ&R ordered him and other electricians to sign up for apprenticeship classes as a scheme to inappropriately pay him. If Betts signed up for the apprentice classes, JJ&R could pay him a lower wage rate than required by law despite the fact that Betts had worked as an electrician for years, the suit claims.

John Werner of Reaud, Morgan and Quinn in Beaumont represented the plaintiffs.

Sugar Land attorney Himesh Gandhi represented the defendant

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, presided over the case.

Case No. E188-745

More News