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New Jersey landscaper ordered to pay temp workers nearly $200K

April 22, 2022 -  By

Temporary landscaping workers will receive nearly $200,000 in back wages following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into alleged violations of the H-2B worker visa program.

An administrative law judge ruled that New Jersey-based Turf Masters must pay 47 workers $181,670.19 in addition to more than $38,000 in civil penalties, citing H-2B violations including failure to pay a prevailing wage, reimburse employees for inbound and outbound travel or retain documentation of involved workers for three years following their H-2B certification.

According to investigators, Turf Masters instructed employees to falsely state they never worked overtime hours. During the period in question, the prevailing wage was $15.52 per hour and $23.28 for overtime.

Turf Masters is now subject to several enhanced compliance measures over the next four years such as institution of an electronic timekeeping system, hiring of a bilingual monitor to conduct trainings and audits. Confidential interviews of all company H-2B workers and installation of GPS devices on each vehicle used to transport workers are also included in those terms.

“Employees have a right to be paid their wages, to seek those wages and cooperate with investigators,” said Charlene Rachor, district director for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in Lawrenceville, N.J. “The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate interference with its investigations. This investigation underscores the department’s commitment to using all enforcement tools to protect the rights of people who work in the U.S. Other employers should use the outcome of this investigation as an opportunity to review their own practices to make sure they comply with the law and avoid violations like those found in this case.”

The division’s Southern New Jersey District Office conducted the investigation. Attorney Jacob Heyman-Kantor and Senior Trial Attorney Rolando Valdez with the department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case.

“Employers who flout the rules of the H-2B program harm workers and gain unfair economic advantages,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, a regional solicitor for the Department of Labor. “The U.S. Department of Labor will actively litigate such cases to achieve resolutions that ensure that applicants and workers are properly paid and prevent future violations.”

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