Courts order Idaho quarry to pay nearly $1M in back wages, liquidated damages for 60 workers after investigation finds multiple labor violations
BOISE, ID – A federal court and the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges have ordered an Oakley stone quarry to pay $983,725 in back wages and liquidated damages after U.S. Department of Labor investigators found that the employer violated multiple federal labor laws, which denied 60 workers their rightfully earned wages.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho entered a consent judgment requiring Northern Stone Supply Inc. and its owner Gregory Osterhout to pay $373,608 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected employees. In a corresponding case, the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges ordered the employer to pay $236,509 in back wages and $50,000 in civil money penalties assessed by the department for the employer’s willful violations of the H-2B program.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigation from April 2019 to November 2021 found numerous violations by Northern Stone Supply Inc. of H-2B temporary foreign nonagricultural worker program regulations and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, the H-2B violations included the following:
- Discriminated against U.S. workers by offering significantly more hours to H-2B workers.
- Paid less than the wage stated in the job order.
- Improperly classified workers with lower-paying job designations than the work performed.
- Failed to keep proper employee records with respect to worker earnings.
- Did not provide items necessary to perform work free of charge as required.
- Failed to provide a copy of the job order for workers as required.
Northern Stone Supply’s FLSA violations occurred when the employer paid workers piece rates instead of the proper hourly wage for the job performed, failed to pay the time and one-half overtime premium for hours over 40 in a workweek, and did not record hours worked on payroll as the law requires.
“The H-2B program provides employers the ability to hire foreign workers after unsuccessfully trying to hire U.S.-based workers,” explained Wage and Hour Division Regional Director Ruben Rosalez in San Francisco. “This employer violated the rights of domestic workers through preferential hiring and shortchanged their H-2B guest workers. The Department of Labor will continue to hold employers accountable when they disregard the law and ensure that workers get the wages they have earned.”
The division’s Portland District Office investigated this case, with Senior Trial Attorney Norman Garcia of the Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco litigating the case for the department.
“Employers relying on H-2B guest workers must fulfill the terms of their contracts under the H-2B program to avoid undermining working conditions for U.S. workers,” explained Regional Solicitor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco, California. “Breaking contractual promises to H-2B workers to pay the lawful wage ultimately reduces the wages domestic workers will earn to do the same work. The department will hold employers like Northern Stone Supply accountable when they violate the employment standards for all workers.”
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 division staff.
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 where they are from – 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.