Feds delineate cement mason vs. landscaper labor in back wages case

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor; CP staff

Following a Labor Department Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation, Sterling Heights, Mich.-based Metropolitan Concrete Corp. will pay $73,647 in back wages to 15 employees working under the H-2B non-immigrant visa program, which provides for the admission of non-immigrants to the U.S. to perform temporary non-agricultural labor or services.

WHD investigators found the contractor a) classified the H-2B employees improperly as landscapers, determining that they actually worked as cement masons and concrete finishers, and as such, should have been paid at a higher prevailing wage rate; and, b) should have advertised the position to potential U.S. workers using the correct job classification and prevailing wage rate, as required by the H-2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Failure to comply with those provisions may have resulted in fewer U.S. workers applying for the positions than would have occurred if Metropolitan Concrete advertised accurate information, WHD contends.

Investigators also found the contractor failed to comply with requirements to pay employees’ inbound transportation costs and provide the tools, supplies, or equipment needed to perform their job duties; and, took impermissible deductions from workers’ pay for housing expenses. In addition to the payment of back wages, WHD assessed Metropolitan Concrete $29,161 in civil penalties.

“The H-2B program safeguards American employees against displacement and also protects vulnerable foreign workers from being paid less than the prevailing wage or otherwise working under substandard conditions,” says WHD Director, Detroit Timolin Mitchell. “This case demonstrates our commitment to ensuring all workers are paid what they have legally earned and to leveling the playing field for law-abiding employers.” —Wage and Hour Division Helpline, 866/487-9243; www.dol.gov/whd