The Department of Labor (DOL) said in a statement Monday that Metropolitan Concrete Corp., a concrete contractor in Sterling Heights, Michigan, must pay a total of $102,808 -- $73,647 in back wages and $29,161 in civil damages -- to H-2B employees it improperly classified in order to get cheap labor.

DOL investigators found that the Michigan company misrepresented 15 employees as landscapers instead of cement masons and concrete finishers to avoid paying them a higher wage. In addition to cheating its workers out of wages, the company also failed to pay for job-related costs, like travel expenses, which are required under the H-2B program, and neglected to supply employees with the equipment and tools needed to work.

"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," Detroit Wage and Hour District Director Timolin Mitchell said.

"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."

The DOL also found that the concrete company made "impermissible deductions" by withholding part of employee's earnings for housing expenses.

Currently, under the H-2B program, employers are permitted to hire foreign workers to do temporary, non-agricultural jobs on a one-time, intermittent, peak-load, or seasonal basis. The DOL stated that the company's failure to advertise for the correct position might have lead to less applicants for the job.

For more on this story, see Law360.

H-2B visas
employer compliance

Updated: Tue, May 1st 2018 @ 2:30pm EDT