Between amounts owed to 95 employees for FLSA violations and H-2B temporary visa violations, an out-of-state firm will be paying more than $185,000 in unpaid wages as the result of an investigation by the DOL. With penalties included, the investigation will cost the company a total of more than $265,000. In a case that is relevant for employers in Texas as well as elsewhere, the employer's numerous violations can serve as an example of how some companies are willing to "step outside of the rules" at times in an attempt to lower labor costs by skimping on wages.
Investigators found that the company had made false statements with regard to categorizing drywall installers as construction laborers in order to apply a lesser wage rate. The company was also found to have assigned their H-2B temporary workers to locations that were outside of the stated area of employment. The investigation discovered that H-2B temporary workers were assigned to cutting grass, removing trees, and other tasks at the company owner's home.
Additionally, the company was found to have not paid its H-2B workers at the rates that it stated on its program application. H-2B workers were also made to pay for expenses considered by the program to be unlawful. The investigation showed that the program's required reporting procedures had not been followed.
In addition to the H-2B violations, the company did not adhere to FLSA requirements which stipulate that the minimum federal wage be paid and that hours over 40 each week must be at a rate equal to time-and-a-half. Most employers are, thankfully, more ethical and will follow the federal and state laws covering wages that have been set in place to protect workers. When and if however, workers in Texas feel that they are not being compensated fairly or that an employer may be violating the laws that are designed to protect them, it can be in their best interests to enlist the aid and assistance of those who are both experienced in knowledgeable in those laws.
Source: dol.gov, US Labor Department recovers more than $268,000 in back wages and penalties following investigation of Gem Interiors Inc. of Milford, Ohio, Scott Allen and Rhonda Burke, Aug. 14, 2013