Department of Labor recovers more than $1M in back wages

The Department of Labor's H-2B visa compliance initiative has made significant progress in the Southeast, including barring one landscaping operation.

An ongoing federal initiative to ensure that Southeast employers comply with federal laws regarding the employment of temporary nonimmigrant workers with H-2B guest visas has made significant progress, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The investigations also led the division to add four Southeast employers to the department’s list of employers debarred from participation in the H-2A or H-2B employment programs.

The additions include Innovative Landscaping in Russell, Ky., and International Labor Management Corp. in Vass, N.C.

From October 2019 through March 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in the Southeast recovered more than $1 million in back wages denied to nearly 1,000 workers. The division also assessed more than $650,000 in civil money penalties and debarred four employers and labor contractors for their violations of the H-2B visa program.

“The H-2B visa program includes specific requirements employers must follow to participate. Our ongoing initiative will ensure the rights of all workers — both U.S. and visa workers ‚ in the Southeast are protected and make employers answer for their violations of the law,” said Wage and Hour Division regional administrator Juan Coria.

Among the H-2B violations found, investigators determined employers commonly:

  • Failed to hire or rehire qualified U.S. workers
  • Offered more favorable working conditions and/or imposed restrictions or obligations to the H-2B workers that were not equally applied or offered to U.S. workers
  • Failed to pay offered wage during the entire period of intended employment due to impermissible deductions or including all hours worked
  • Failed to pay for H-2B workers’ inbound and outbound travel expenses and subsistence

In March, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor announced they would release 35,000 additional H-2B visas through Sept. 30.

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