WHD News Release: [09/04/2014]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald or Andre Bowser
Phone Number: (617) 565-2075 or x2074
Email: Fitzgerald.Edmund@dol.gov or Bowser.Andre.J@dol.gov
Release Number: 14-1541-BOS
Connecticut landscaping company to pay $300K in back wages and penalties after US Labor Department finds violations of worker visa program
HARTFORD, Conn. Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management Inc., a Wolcott landscaping company that the U.S. Department of Labor claims violated federal law by failing to hire U.S. workers and underpaying temporary foreign workers, will pay $280,000 in back wages to 80 workers and nine job applicants and $20,000 in civil money penalties. The company signed consent findings approved by the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges and agreed to actively engage in enhanced recruitment of U.S. workers.
Investigators from the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division's New Haven Area Office, part of the Hartford District Office, found that Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management violated provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program during the 2011 and 2012 hiring seasons. The investigation determined that the company did not employ most of the U.S. workers listed as "hired" on its recruitment records and failed to pay its H-2B employees the required prevailing wage rate.
"Our investigation found that Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management's failure to adhere to federal law harmed domestic workers and temporary workers by denying job opportunities for some and denying proper pay for all," said Michelle Garvey, Wage and Hour Division's district director in Hartford. "The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that the H-2B program is used as it was intended by making jobs available for U.S. workers and providing stronger protections for all workers."
The H-2B program allows employers to bring in foreign workers on a temporary basis to perform work only when no U.S. workers are able, willing, qualified and available to do the work and when the employment of H-2B workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The program also requires employers to take proactive efforts to recruit and hire U.S. workers first.
Michael Felsen, the department's regional solicitor of labor in Boston who oversaw litigation of the case said, "This should alert employers who voluntarily utilize the H-2B program that they must take fulfilling their responsibilities seriously. The Labor Department will pursue necessary legal action to ensure that workers receive the employment opportunities, fair treatment and proper wages they're entitled to." Boston regional solicitor's office trial attorney Dustin Saldarriaga handled the litigation for the Department.
For more information about the laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, call its Hartford District Office at 840-240-4160 or its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.