Unfortunately, we live in a world where individuals will take advantage of immigrant construction workers.
For Roofing Insights CEO Dmitry Lipinskiy, he has experienced this type of treatment many times in the construction industry. Consequently, he now is making immigrant construction workers aware of what kind of people they may encounter while on a roof or doing a flooring job.
“You will have people taking advantage of you,”
“I’ve seen it so many times in my career.”
One instance in which Lipinskiy experienced discrimination was when dealing with a contractor who constantly tried to circumvent their contract by blaming every discrepancy on their language barrier.
“He was as shady as they come. I would give him a price and he would always nickel-and-dime me,”
“He would act as if there was a language barrier between us, but there was no language barrier. He was just a shady contractor who was trying to take advantage of immigrants like me who had accents, but I knew what I was supposed to get paid for.”
Ultimately, after being unable to resolve their dispute amicably, Lipinskiy and the contractor pursued litigation to settle their differences.
Lipinskiy adds that going to court over issues is not uncommon, and that many immigrants in the construction industry should be prepared for this inevitability because there will always be people trying to take advantage of foreigners.
“You will have people who will try to take advantage of you because a lot of people who have been here for a long time think that if you’re an immigrant or if you don’t speak English, that doing so is okay,”
“As a matter of fact, in the roofing industry it’s happening right now. Contractors are abusing workers, knowing that those subs will not sue them.”
With that being said, Lipinskiy strongly encourages other immigrants to not accept the misdeeds of other contractors.
“Don’t let people take advantage of you,”
“If you have done the work, whether you’re in sales or labor, always stand up for yourself. Don’t let people walk over you just because you have an accent or because people think you won’t take them to court.”
“I’ve been to court nine times in fifteen years. Usually it’s Americans who sue me,”
Another instance in which Lipinskiy found himself entangled with a suspect contractor was when he was hired to do a flooring job for $4,500.
The job seemingly went smoothly, but soon Lipinskiy was called into small claims court when the man who hired him stated that Lipinskiy owed him $11,000 in damages from the initial job.
According to the contractor, Lipinskiy and his partner put a dent in one piece of furniture, a claim that Lipinskiy said was inaccurate.
Plus, even if Lipinskiy had damaged the piece of furniture, the damage expense would in no way come close to $11,000.
“He put $5,000 in a small claim and he put in another $6,000 to repaint his entire house, including ceilings. He was suing me for $11,000 on a $4,500 job that was all labor. He provided all the materials and there were no complaints about the floors,”
Per protocol, Lipinskiy showed up to his court date with his attorney, and then the other contractor made a mockery of himself by being unable to substantiate his claims.
At the end of the court session, Lipinskiy was still ordered to pay $250 in touch ups, but the lessons he learned from the experience were invaluable.
“The thing is, a reasonable person will always see who is right and who is wrong,”
Lipinskiy says, noting how the judge that day saw right through the other contractor’s absurd claims.
“The moral of the story is this: there will always be people like that contractor, but you have to do what’s right. You have to give your best effort to resolve it and if they are suing you or taking advantage of you, you have to stand up for yourself. Don’t let people run all over you,”
It is also worth mentioning that standing up for yourself is applicable beyond situations in which someone is trying to take advantage of someone from a foreign country, especially in construction, an industry where it is easy to differentiate between right and wrong.
“Construction is very black and white. There is a scope of work and there is a price,”
What do you think?
Are immigrant construction workers today more at risk of being persecuted by shady contractors?
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