An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) found a Lorain, Ohio-based landscape firm owed 12 temporary employees $36,179 in back wages for violations of the H-2B Visa guest-worker program. The company also paid $40,000 in civil money penalties.

According to the release from DOL, employers who hire temporary foreign workers must pay their international transportation and meal expenses while they travel from their home country, a federal requirement that Alvarado Landscaping violated when it left the workers it hired to pay their own way to the U.S.

“These workers, who are away from their families for months at a time, deserve to be paid every penny of the wages they have legally earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director George Victory. “Enforcing the requirements of this program protects vulnerable workers, protects U.S. workers and levels the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”

The division determined Alvarado Landscaping violated the H2-B program when it: failed to pay workers’ inbound and outbound international transportation and meal costs; paid H-2B workers overtime hours in cash at a rate less than the required wage; took impermissible deductions from workers’ pay to cover their housing; and provided investigators with inaccurate time and pay records. QR

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