U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Maintenance Contractor Paying $70,000 in Back Wages, Penalties for H-2B Visa Violations
ODESSA, TX – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Juan Vizcaino – doing business as Vizcaino LP in Odessa, Texas – has paid $45,945 in back wages to 22 employees hired under the H-2B temporary visa program and two U.S. workers hired during the recruitment period for guest workers. The employer also has paid $24,120 in civil money penalties to settle the H-2B violations.
WHD found Juan Vizcaino violated provisions of the H-2B visa program after failing to record all the hours that employees worked. When the employer failed to count time spent by employees loading and unloading equipment before and after their scheduled shifts as work time, those unpaid hours resulted in Vizcaino failing to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The employer also failed to provide employees with required earnings statements on a regular basis.
WHD cited additional violations when Vizcaino employed workers outside the geographic area of intended employment that they specified in the temporary employment certification they filed with the Department when hiring the guest workers. The Department also cited Vizcaino for a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) recordkeeping violation for failing to keep required payroll and time records.
"Time spent performing pre-shift duties such as loading equipment or cleaning up at the end of a workday must be recorded. Employees must be paid for all the hours that they work," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Evelyn Sanchez in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Our efforts ensure that employers understand and abide by the provisions of the H-2B program to safeguard American employees against displacement while protecting foreign workers from being paid less than the wages they were promised."
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, electronic toolkits, or in-person visits with local WHD staff.
For more information about the FLSA, the H-2B visa program, and other laws enforced by the Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd, including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
WHD's mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.