Labor Broker Who Worked on Projects of MWF, Roers, and Dominium Development Pleads Guilty in Felony Case
After employee was injured with a nail in the eye, labor broker denied knowing the worker to avoid paying workers compensation insurance
Minneapolis, MN – On October 2, 2023, construction labor broker Nelson Lopez Giron pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, after misrepresenting the employment status of up to 15 workers. Nelson Lopez Giron led construction crews on job sites of many prominent multi-family developers in the Twin Cities metro area (see list below). Sentencing in the case is scheduled for December 4, 2023 in Hennepin County Court. This is one of four criminal cases that the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is actively prosecuting regarding construction labor brokers (see below for more details).
“Some large multi-family developers like MWF, Roers and Dominium drive a race to the bottom in labor standards, seeming to prioritize profits over human rights on their job sites,” said Merle Payne, Co-Director of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL). “Labor brokers like Nelson Lopez Giron use misclassification as a way to cut costs and win contracts, leading to severe abuses of workers’ rights, including wage theft, dangerous working conditions, and at the extreme, labor trafficking. In this case, a nail struck the eye of a worker, and the labor broker attempted to cover it up by offering the worker eye drops. How many other human rights violations go hidden in the shadows of projects of these large developers?”
CTUL is calling on developers to join the Building Dignity and Respect (BDR) Program – an independent monitoring program that guarantees basic workplace protections by ensuring that workers are able to come forward without fear of retaliation. “By agreeing to work together to ensure decent conditions on job sites through BDR, workers and developers can stop this unending cycle of exploitation and ensure basic dignity and respect for all construction workers,” said Merle Payne, Co-Director of CTUL.
A recent study points out that both workers and the broader community are impacted by the misclassification of workers. According to the study, nearly one in every four construction workers in Minnesota are misclassified or are paid off the books, resulting in $29,700 per worker per year in lost wages and benefits. Additionally, the study estimates that Minnesota annually loses $136 million in state tax revenues as a result of misclassification of workers.
According to the charging document, the defendant twice reported to his workers compensation insurance company that he did not expect to employ any workers in the upcoming year. During the second term, “a worker at a Giron Construction jobsite in Minnetonka was injured when a nail he was attempting to hammer in bounced back and struck him in the eye.” The charging document goes on to lay out multiple attempts of the labor broker to hide the fact that the accident happened on the job site or that he employed any workers, placing in jeopardy the worker’s access to workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- Defendant did not report the injury to the insurer as required;
- When the worker told the Defendant he was going to seek medical attention, the Defendant advised him to lie to the doctor about how the injury occurred;
- When a claim was filed, the Defendant denied knowing who the worker was; and
- Later the Defendant claimed that the worker was an employee of a subcontractor, not of Defendant’s company.
Nelson Lopez has worked on job sites of many prominent developers including:
- MWF (Rosemary Apartments, 4628 Rosemary Way, Hugo, Washington County, MN 55038)
- Dominium Development (Oaks Landing, 701 8th Avenue Northwest, New Brighton, Ramsey County, MN 55112)
- Enclave (Fredrik Apts, 13798 Rogers Drive, Rogers, Hennepin County, MN 55374; and 610 Crossings Apartments, 5505 96th Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, Hennepin County, MN 55443
- Roers (Roers The Riser, 15800 Grove Circle North, Maple Grove, Hennepin County, MN 55369)
- Sherman Assc (Sherman Riverdale, 3140 Northdale Boulevard Northwest, Coon Rapids, Anoka County, MN 55433)
- Trident Development LLC (Anchor View Apartments, 2290 ANCHOR DR, North Saint Paul, Ramsey County, MN 55109; Norbella Senior Living, 8386 117th Avenue North, Champlin, Hennepin County, MN 55316; Quest Apartments, 13650 Marsh View Boulevard, Rogers, Hennepin County, MN 55374; and 12567 5th Avenue North, Zimmerman, Sherburne County, MN 55398)
This is just one of four cases that Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is actively prosecuting related to construction labor brokers:
- State of Minnesota vs. Fabian Espinosa, two felony charges: insurance fraud and coercion; one gross misdemeanor charge: criminal sex conduct
- State of Minnesota vs. Frederick Leon Newell, two felony charges: theft of wages and theft by swindle
- State of Minnesota vs. Jose Eduardo Merino, two felony charges: theft by swindle
- State of Minnesota vs. Nelson Israel Lopez Giron, one felony charge: insurance fraud
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL; Center of Workers United in Struggle) is a low-wage worker-led organization that is fighting for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers in the Twin Cities metro area.