An Ohio company was recently charged with several violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the H-2B temporary nonimmigrant visa program. The company has been debarred from participating in the H-2B program until 2014 and has paid thousands of dollars in civil penalties for the violations.
Immigrant workers forced to work outside scope of employment
Gem Interiors Inc. was paying over 95 of their drywall installers under the minimum wage and violated overtime laws. They also failed to meet the H-2B provisions for 22 more workers costing them $58,617 in penalties. Investigators from the Columbus District Office found the violation of requirements by certifying false statements on the temporary employment certification applications. Gem Interiors falsely stated occupations as construction laborers instead of the higher paid drywall installers. They also used the wage rate for laborers instead of the one for drywall installers. Furthermore, they employed workers and instructed them to work outside of their intended employment. The employees were forced to work at their employer’s homes cutting grass, removing trees and other jobs not covered in Gem Interior’s Temporary Employment Certification.
Crackdown on companies using immigrants
Gem workers were not paid at the rate certified on the application for all of the hours they worked. They were also forced to pay unlawful expenses and failed to follow reporting procedures. The H-2B employees were not even reimbursed for inbound travel expenses and the company also required individuals to purchase their own visas, which created a minimum wage violation. Finally, Gem Interiors violated FLSA by not paying at least federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked. The company never kept records of the hours worked by employees and therefore did not compensate them for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. The crackdown on companies who are violating immigration laws has expanded with stricter laws and higher penalties for the violations in order to prevent the extortion of immigrants.
If you have questions regarding how to handle foreign workers or if you think you are being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous employer, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.