MINNEAPOLIS — A U.S. Labor Department investigation has resulted in the debarment of Garcia Forest Service LLC, and its president, Samuel Garcia, from eligibility for further service contracts with any U.S. government agency for three years. The investigation found that the Rockingham, N.C.-based company violated the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act by failing to pay fringe benefits, minimum wage, overtime and holiday pay to workers hired for a reforestation project in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. Administrative Law Judge Kenneth A. Krantz issued the debarment order in Newport News, Va. The consent findings were filed by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Chicago.
"Contractors that do business with the federal government have an obligation to abide by the law, pay their employees the required contractual rates and benefits, and keep accurate and complete required records," said Laura A. Fortman, principal deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "The Service Contract Act requires debarment when violations are found unless the high standard of 'unusual circumstances' is met. Debarring this employer illustrates the department's commitment to vigorous enforcement of government contracting laws and helps level the playing field for law-abiding employers."
Garcia Forest Service entered into a contract in 2007 with the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for reforestation services, such as planting seedlings and clearing brush in the Superior National Forest. The company primarily uses the H-2B Visa Program to recruit and employ foreign guest workers to perform seasonal work under its contracts.
An investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division's district office in Minneapolis found that the company violated the SCA and the CWHSSA by failing to ensure hours worked were accurately reported resulting in minimum wage violations, not paying required fringe benefits, overtime and holiday pay. The company and its president, Garcia, cooperated fully with the Wage and Hour Division during its investigation and subsequently paid 12 workers $27,489 in back wages.
Garcia Forest Service had previously been investigated by the Wage and Hour Division regarding three contracts during the period of 2005-2006. That investigation found the company had failed to pay holiday pay under these contracts. The company provided back wages to the effected employees as a result of the investigation.
The SCA applies to every contract entered into by the United States or the District of Columbia, the principal purpose of which is to furnish services in the United States through the use of service employees. The SCA
requires that contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal contracts in excess of $2,500 must pay their service workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the locality.
For more information about the SCA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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In the Matter of: Garcia Forest Service LLC, Samuel Garcia and Flor Garcia OALJ Case Number: 2011-SCA-00002