Florida stable pays $137K in back wages, penalties after US Department of Labor investigation finds H-2B guest worker violations
OCALA, FL – A consent order issued by an administrative law judge in the U.S. Department of Labor has allowed the department’s Wage and Hour Division to recover $81,139 in back wages for 29 foreign workers brought to Florida for employment under the federal H-2B guest worker visa program.
The order by the Office of Administrative Law Judges follows an investigation that found Wavertree Stables violated the program when it failed to pay guest workers required wages. The shortage resulted from the employer’s failure to pay employees for all the hours that they worked, effectively lowering their hourly rates.
The employer also staggered the workers’ arrival in the U.S., contrary to the need stated in Wavertree Stables’ H-2B Petition requesting foreign workers. Investigators also found the employer failed to reimburse workers for their travel expenses incurred traveling to and from their home countries, as the program requires. The employer also failed to keep an accurate record of the number of hours employees worked. In addition to the back wages, Wavertree Stables paid a $56,806 civil penalty the department assessed for the violations.
“These vulnerable workers left their home countries and came to the U.S. to work under conditions clearly prescribed by the H-2B visa program. They deserve every protection that comes along with those promised conditions,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Wildalí De Jesús in Orlando, Florida. “Our enforcement of the labor provisions of guest worker visa programs protects guest workers, protects front line U.S. workers, and protects employers from having to compete with those who would gain an unfair competitive advantage by skirting the rules.”
The division 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 and confidential calls to local Wage and Hour Division offices. Learn more about the H-2B Visa Program. Contact the Wage and Hour Division toll-free at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.