U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Pennsylvania Landscaping Company Paying $74,290 in Back Wages and Penalties For H-2B Visa Program Violations
MOUNT PLEASANT, PA – Silvis Group Inc. – a Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, landscaping company – has entered consent findings with the U.S. Department of Labor requiring payment of $74,290 in back wages and penalties for violating the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program.
An investigation by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) determined - that from January 17, 2015, to January 7, 2017 - Silvis Group Inc. violated requirements of the H-2B visa program by:
- Denying employment for landscaping and grounds keeping positions to two qualified U.S. applicants, resulting in $8,414 in back wages for the U.S. applicants;
- Failing in some weeks to pay overtime at the correct rate, after illegally excluding bonus payments from the calculation, resulting in $4,457 in back wages for 30 H-2B employees from Mexico;
- Taking impermissible deductions for uniforms and housing in poor condition, resulting in $16,350 in back wages for 30 H-2B employees from Mexico;
- Failing to cooperate with and actively working to hinder the WHD investigation;
- Misrepresenting dates of temporary need and the number of employees needed on its Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Foreign Labor Certification forms; and
- Failing to meet the requirement to contractually forbid third parties from seeking payment from employees.
Silvis Group Inc. has paid a civil money penalty of $45,068 for substantial and willful failure to comply with H-2B provisions.
"The H-2B visa program includes specific requirements employers must follow to participate. When employers fail to comply with these requirements, we will hold them accountable," said Wage and Hour District Director John DuMont, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"This case highlights the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to ensure that employers understand and abide by the provisions of the program to safeguard American employees against displacement while protecting foreign workers from being paid less than the wage they were promised," said Regional Philadelphia Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III.
In addition to paying the back wages and penalty, Silvis Group Inc. agrees to future compliance with the H-2B provisions, and three years of monitoring with an independent third party auditor.
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.
For more information about the H-2B temporary visa program, FLSA, and other laws enforced by the WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/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.