Michigan Ski Resort to Pay $60,500 in Back Wages and Penalties for Violations of Foreign Visa Program and Child Labor Laws
IRON RIVER, MI – The U.S. Department of Labor has found Michigan ski resort Ski Brule Inc. in violation of the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program and the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) after an investigation by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Under the terms of the consent findings and settlement agreement approved by an administrative law judge, Ski Brule Inc. - which operates as Brule Ski Resort - will pay $24,711 in back wages to 20 Jamaican housekeepers employed at the resort and $35,789 in penalties for H-2B and child labor violations.
WHD investigators found the resort violated H-2B requirements when it failed to:
- Request only the number of full-time housekeepers required and accurately state the dates of their temporary need;
- Pay housekeepers for all the hours that they worked, resulting in their wages averaging less than the required prevailing wage rate;
- Pay transportation costs for workers to return to their home countries, as required;
- Specify the amount that would be deducted from housekeepers pay for rent; and
- Employ housekeepers in the occupations called for in their visas – instead, the employer placed workers as ski lift attendants, restaurant workers, and retail salespersons.
"Any employer seeking H-2B workers must be ready and willing to abide by all of the program's requirements," said Mary O'Rourke, District Director for Wage and Hour in Grand Rapids. "This case demonstrates our commitment to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and protect vulnerable workers from being paid less than they are legally owed."
The H-2B program allows employers to bring non-immigrant, foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary, non-agricultural labor or services after the employer certifies that it advertised the jobs first to U.S. workers and that it agrees to adhere to program guidelines.
Additionally, the resort employed five minors - 14 and 15 years of age - as ski instructors, an occupation prohibited for workers less than 16 years old. The resort also failed to maintain records of the birth dates of all minor employees.
Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve an employer's petition for H-2B visa workers, an employer must file an application with the Department stating that there are not sufficient U.S. employees who are able, willing, qualified, and available. The application must also affirm that the employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed persons in the U.S. The law provides for numerous employee protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working conditions that do not apply to non-agricultural programs.
Visit https://www.dol.gov/whd or call the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.