Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh-based landscape company Ed Bayer Design Group has been ordered to pay $9,372 in back wages to 11 temporary workers from Mexico employed as landscape laborers and $17,483 in civil money penalties after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division disclosed violations of the H-2B temporary nonimmigrant visa program. Administrative Law Judge Thomas M. Burke, from the department, entered the decision and order on July 3. The decision and order resolves a lawsuit filed by the Labor Department’s Philadelphia Regional Solicitor’s Office.
The judge upheld the findings by the investigators from the division’s Pittsburgh District Office that the company misrepresented the dates of need, number of employees sought, job requirements and job duties to be performed, and drug testing requirements, when submitting an application for workers under the H-2B program. The company also made impermissible deductions from the workers’ wages for employer-provided substandard and overcrowded housing as well as application and recruitment fees. The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that an employer cannot take credit for the cost of housing that is furnished in violation of any law, and the judge’s decision states “testimony clearly shows that the lodging violated the state housing code.”
“Employers who choose to participate in the voluntary H-2B program must realize they are required to follow all of the labor standards of the program,” said John DuMont, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Pittsburgh. “The department is committed to protecting the rights of all workers covered by the laws we enforce. This case demonstrates that we are using all tools available, including penalty assessments, to remedy violations, promote accountability and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers.”
The H-2B guest worker program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. H-2B employment must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, or for a seasonal or peak load need. The program requires the employer to attest to the department that it will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of the prevailing wage, applicable federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or local minimum wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment during the entire period of the approved certification. Additionally, certain recruitment and displacement standards have been established in order to protect similarly employed workers in the United States.
For more information about the H-2B program and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division’s Pittsburgh office at 412-395-4996. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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