Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division investigated Gem Interiors Inc.
and found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the H-2B temporary nonimmigrant visa program.
The Milford, OH company
agreed to pay $126,944 to 95 drywall installers for FLSA minimum wage and
overtime violations, and an additional $58,617 to 22 of these workers for
violations of the H-2B provisions.
The company has been debarred from
participating in the H-2B program until 2014, and has paid $82,968 in civil
money penalties for its H-2B violations.
from the division's Columbus District Office found that Gem Interiors violated
H-2B program requirements by certifying false statements on its Temporary
Employment Certification applications in 2010 and 2011.
falsely stating the occupation as construction laborer instead of the higher
paid drywall installer, using the wage rate for laborer instead of drywall
installer and employing workers outside the area of intended employment.
Investigators found the workers were required to cut grass, remove trees and do
other work at the employer's home, jobs not covered in Gem Interior's Temporary
who choose to participate in the voluntary H-2B program must realize they are
required to follow all of the labor standards of the program," said George
Victory, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Columbus. "This
case demonstrates that we are using all tools available, including penalty
assessments, to remedy violations, promote accountability and ensure a level
playing field for law-abiding employers."
Interiors did not pay the H-2B workers the rate certified on their application
for all hours worked; they required H‑2B workers to pay unlawful expenses; and
it failed to follow proper reporting procedures required by the H-2B program.
also violated the FLSA, which requires that covered, nonexempt employees be
paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked,
plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions,
bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week.
are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
failed to reimburse some H-2B employees for inbound travel expenses and
required individuals to purchase their visas, creating a minimum wage
violation. The company also failed to keep records of hours worked and to pay
proper overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire
nonimmigrant foreign workers to perform nonagricultural labor or services in
the United States, but only when qualified U.S. workers are unavailable, and
the employment of the H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working
conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
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 program requires an
employer to attest to the department that it will offer a wage that equals or
exceeds the highest of the following: the prevailing wage for the occupation
and geographic area, applicable federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or
local minimum wage.
The program also establishes recruitment and displacement
standards to protect similarly employed U.S. workers. For more information
about the H-2B program, the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and
Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also
is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.