The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $771,022 in back wages and $61,215 in liquidated damages for 47 workers of a Haverhill landscaping company after the employer failed to comply with requirements of the federal H-2B worker program and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The H-2B Worker Program permits businesses to employ temporary visa workers for limited periods of time.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Triad Associates Inc. did not pay certain H-2B workers the proper overtime rate for all hours over 40 hours in a workweek, a Fair Labor Standards Act violation. They also found Triad Associates failed to keep accurate records for the hours that salaried non-exempt employees worked. The division recovered $61,215 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages owed to six workers to resolve the FLSA violations. The investigation also identified violations of related H-2B provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Specifically, the division found Triad Associates illegally:
- Failed to comply with the prohibition against preferential treatment, which resulted in the division recovering $138,763 in back wages for 13 workers.
- Paid less than the offered wage rate to masons and pavers. The division recovered $503,704 in back wages owed to 47 workers.
- Placed workers in an unapproved job classification and made impermissible deductions from workers’ wages.
- Failed to pay H-2B workers’ inbound travel, outbound travel, and subsistence costs.
- Failed to fulfill required recruitment activities, including contacting former U.S. employees when attempting to fill vacancies.
- Did not retain required documents.
In addition to recovering back wages, the division assessed Triad Associates with civil money penalties of $5,694 under the FLSA and $117,949 under the H-2B program, which the company has paid.
“H-2B program workers are often vulnerable to wage shortages and other violations of their rights,” explained Wage and Hour District Director Carlos Matos in Boston. “Employers who employ H-2B program workers must comply with the law, or face potentially being barred from the program for not following certain of the rules.”
To ensure future compliance with H-2B regulations, Triad entered into a settlement agreement with enhanced compliance provisions, which requires them to hire a compliance monitor who must be approved by the Wage and Hour Division. The monitor will provide reports to the division, including an assessment of whether Triad is complying with applicable law.
The federal H-2B worker program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the U.S. The employment must be temporary in nature and be for a limited specific period, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal, peak load, or intermittent need.