US Department of Labor enforcement initiative seeks to reduce violations of guest worker program by Southeast employers
ATLANTA - An ongoing federal initiative to ensure that Southeast employers comply with federal laws regarding the employment of temporary nonimmigrant workers with H-2B guest visas has made significant progress in holding violators accountable for infringing on workers’ rights.
From October 2019 through March 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in the Southeast has recovered more than $1 million in back wages denied to nearly 1,000 workers. The division also assessed more than $650,000 in civil money penalties and debarred four employers and labor contractors for their violations of the H-2B visa program.
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the United States to perform non-agricultural labor or services of a temporary nature— a one-time occurrence on a seasonal, a peak load or intermittent basis.
During this period, investigators conducted 73 H-2B investigations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“The H-2B visa program includes specific requirements employers must follow to participate. Our ongoing initiative will ensure the rights of all workers – both U.S. and visa workers – in the Southeast are protected, and make employers answer for their violations of the law,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta.
- Failed to hire or rehire qualified U.S. workers.
- Offered more favorable working conditions and/or imposed restrictions or obligations to the H-2B workers that were not equally applied or offered to U.S. workers.
- Failed to pay offered wage during entire period of intended employment due to impermissible deductions or including all hours worked.
- Failed to pay for H-2B workers’ inbound and outbound travel expenses and subsistence.
The investigations also led the division to add four Southeast employers to the department’s list of employers debarred from participation in the H-2A or H-2B employment programs. The additions are Global Cleaning & Multi-Servicer LLC in Tallahassee, Florida; International Labor Management Corp. in Vass, North Carolina; and two Kentucky employers, Innovative Landscaping Inc. in Russell, and Paletco Inc. – operating as Journey Enterprises – in Louisville.
For more information about the labor provisions of the H-2B program and other laws that the division enforces, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android Timesheet App for free.