Landscape Contractor Pays Back Wages, Penalties for H-2B, Overtime Violations Found in U.S. Department of Labor Investigations
KATY, TX – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Terry’s Landscape LLC – based in Katy, Texas – has paid $5,165 in back wages and $20,399 in civil money penalties to settle H-2B non-immigrant visa program violations and $6,472 in back wages for violating the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Investigators found Terry’s Landscape LLC violated provisions of the H-2B nonimmigrant visa program requiring non-discriminatory hiring practices when the employer failed to accept referrals of potential U.S. workers up to 21 days before their stated period of need for guest workers. Additionally, the employer failed to reimburse H-2B workers for travel expenses from their home countries, as required. The investigation also found the employer failed to comply with the requirement to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Office of Foreign Labor Certification when H-2B workers abandoned or terminated employment prior to the time period in the workers’ agreements. Terry’s Landscape LLC violated FLSA overtime requirements when it paid foremen flat rates per day, without regard to the number of hours that they worked. This practice resulted in violations when those employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, but were not paid overtime.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to enforce the laws to ensure employers satisfy their obligations under temporary employment certifications, and will work diligently to prevent any practice that prefers foreign workers over qualified local candidates,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Robin Mallett, in Houston, Texas. “The Department is committed to safeguarding American jobs and leveling the playing field for employers who obey the law.”
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.
The H-2B nonimmigrant program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the U.S. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peak load or intermittent need. The H-2B 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, the state minimum wage, or local minimum wage to the H-2B nonimmigrant worker for the occupation in the area of intended employment during the entire period of the approved H-2B labor certification.
Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA 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.
The mission of WHD 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.
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