New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday she recovered $24,000 for employees of Build With Prospect, Inc. (Build With Prospect), a design-build company that stole wages from employees.
“Every New Yorker deserves fair pay and compensation for their hard work,” said Attorney General James. “Instead of building up our communities, the owners of Build With Prospect exploited workers and unlawfully withheld their hard-earned wages. My office is committed to ensuring everyone receives the wages they are owed, and we will continue to go after employers who prey on hardworking people.”
Brooklyn-based Build With Prospect claimed to operate as a “worker cooperative,” but forced workers to become shareholders of the company by making their employment conditional on owning shares. Workers were required to sign a shareholder agreement and pay $12,000 total for their alleged shares in the company, but they had very little control over the company as shareholders and did not receive any benefits of ownership.
The investigation revealed Build With Prospect also attempted to use the workers’ positions as so-called shareholders to apply for certification as a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise with the New York City Department of Small Business Services.
In some cases, Build With Prospect collected monthly payments toward the $12,000 fee by unlawfully withholding wages from workers’ paychecks. After Build With Prospect stopped operating, it then failed to pay back the workers who had contributed wages towards their shares. As a result of the agreement announced today, impacted workers will receive $24,000 in restitution from Build With Prospect.
The settlement announced today resolves a lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General against Build With Prospect and its owners in July 2021. The lawsuit alleged that Build With Prospect and its owners, Jeremy Shannon, Carla Shannon, and James McDaniel, forced at least 15 workers to become shareholders of the company, making their employment conditional on owning shares.