Seafood processor in Abbeville, La., agrees to pay nearly $53,000 in overtime and minimum wage back wages following US Labor Department investigation
Civil money penalties total $16,000
ABBEVILLE, La. –The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $52,750 in minimum and overtime back wages for 64 seafood processors of Harvest Time Seafood Inc. in Abbeville after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found violations of the overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the H-2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Civil money penalties total $16,000.
"The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that employment of foreign workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers," said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division's regional administrator for the Southwest. "The affected individuals in this case were among the most vulnerable in the workforce."
An investigation conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's New Orleans District Office determined that the company paid its employees on a piece-rate basis, resulting in wages falling below the prevailing wage rates required for workers under the H-2B program. Investigators also found that illegal deductions for the costs of visas, travel, subsistence and the loss or damage of tools and gear were made from employee paychecks, resulting in minimum wage violations under the FLSA. Additionally, the company failed to keep accurate time and payroll records.
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 seasonal or peak load need. The 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 prevailing wage, applicable federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or local minimum wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment during the entire period of the approved certification. Certain recruitment and displacement standards are established in order to protect similarly employed workers in the United States.
Harvest Time Seafood, which is engaged in cooking, peeling and packing crab and crawfish meat for shipment to wholesalers and retailers, has agreed to future compliance. Back wages have been paid in full.
The FLSA requires that covered 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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's
toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's New Orleans District Office at
504-589-6171. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.