The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that Alvarado Landscaping of Lorain, Ohio, violated a federal requirement of paying their H-2B temporary workers for their international transportation and meal expenses. The DOL said the landscaping company must pay $36,000 in back wages and $40,000 in H-2B penalties.
The federal law requires employers who hire H-2B temporary workers to pay their international transportation and meal expenses while they travel from their home country to the U.S. The landscaping company left it to the workers to bear their own travel expenses.
Back Wages and H-2B Penalties
The investigation conducted by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division revealed that the landscaping company owed twelve temporary employees a total of $36,179 in back wages for violating the H-2B visa program. The company has also been issued $40,000 in civil money penalties.
“These workers, who are away from their families for months at a time, deserve to be paid every penny of the wages they have legally earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director George Victory in Columbus, Ohio. “Enforcing the requirements of this program protects these vulnerable workers, protects U.S. workers in their industry, and levels the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”
The Wage and Hour Division determined that Alvarado Landscaping had committed the following violations:
- Failed to pay workers’ inbound and outbound international transportation and meal costs
- Paid H-2B workers overtime hours in cash at a rate less than the required wage
- Took impermissible deductions from workers’ pay to cover their housing
- Provided investigators with inaccurate time and pay records
Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act
The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and various other standard labor requirements. The FLSA Minimum Wage is the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour. Some states have their own minimum wage laws. In situations where the employee is subject to both federal and state minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage.
Employees are also to be paid for their overtime hours worked. Hours worked over 40 per workweek must be compensated at a rate not less than one- and one-half times the regular rate of pay. Additionally, there is no limit on the number of hours an employee who is 16 years and older can work overtime. Employers violating minimum wage requirements are usually investigated and slapped with civil penalties.