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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [06/27/2011]
Contact Name: Michael D’Aquino or Michael Wald
Phone Number: (404) 562-2076 or x2078
Release Number: 11-0929-ATL

Vanderbilt Landscaping pays $18,000 fine following US Department of Labor investigations into violations of H-2B temporary nonimmigrant worker program

Company agrees not to file labor certification applications for 3-year period

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC has agreed to pay $18,000 in civil money penalties to resolve violations of the federal H-2B temporary nonimmigrant worker program following investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and its Employment and Training Administration. The company also agreed not to participate in the department's foreign labor certification program for a period of three years under terms of a settlement entered with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

The Employment and Training Administration is charged with administering the H-2B program nationwide. The Wage and Hour Division ensures that all H-2B workers are paid the wages they have earned under federal law.

"We are pleased that we are collecting the full penalty amount we assessed," said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Nashville District Office. "This case underscores the department's commitment to enforcing our nation's employment laws for all workers, and leveling the playing field for hardworking Americans and law-abiding businesses that face a competitive disadvantage when others skirt the law."

"Companies that play by the rules are welcome to take part in the H-2B program. Those companies which do not may lose that privilege in the future," said Dr. William L. Carlson, administrator of the Employment and Training Administration's Office of Foreign Labor Certification.

In its application for H-2B workers, Vanderbilt Landscaping had agreed to comply with all aspects of the program, but a team of Wage and Hour Division investigators found that the company willfully violated some provisions by placing workers outside the approved area of intended employment, not conducting required recruitment of U.S. citizens and misrepresenting the company's reason for the temporary need for H-2B workers. The company agreed to the settlement without admitting to any violations.

In a separate case, Vanderbilt Landscaping recently agreed to pay $18,496 to 42 workers after an Wage and Hour Division investigation found workers were not compensated for visa and transportation costs that reduced their wages below the federal minimum wage. The company also failed to compensate workers for all hours spent on job duties, resulting in them not receiving overtime pay when hours worked exceeded 40 hours in a week. Back wages in that case have been paid to all workers who could be located.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence or for seasonal, peak load and intermittent needs. The H-2B program requires the employer to attest to the Department of Labor that it will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of the following: the prevailing wage, the applicable federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage or the local minimum wage. That wage must be paid 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. The H-2B program also establishes certain recruitment and displacement standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular hourly rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.

The case was investigated by the Wage and Hour Division's Nashville District Office and litigated by the department's regional solicitor in Atlanta and associate regional solicitor in Nashville. For more information about the H2-B program or the FLSA, call the division's Nashville office at 615-781-5344 or its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

Solis v. Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC.
Case Numbers 2011-LCA-00020
2011-PED-00001