NEWBURY, OH – The U.S. Department of Labor has initiated debt collection procedures against a Newbury landscaping company that allegedly threatened workers for cooperating with a federal investigation that found the company and its owner owes $169,015 in back wages and damages to 19 affected workers. The action follows a Wage and Hour Division investigation, which identified numerous violations of the H-2B visa program by Hoenigman Landscaping Co. LLC and owner Richard Hoenigman in 2021 and 2022. The division found the employer shorted wages of at least 19 workers by up to $4.05 per hour less than the required prevailing wage. The company also violated program regulations by assigning workers to Pennsylvania job sites after its H-2B application certified they would only employ the workers, primarily from Mexico, in the Cleveland area. The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to hire non-immigrant workers temporarily to perform non-agricultural labor or services as specified in its application.In July 2023, the department banned the company and its owner from H-2B visa program participation for five years after the investigators learned the employers allegedly threatened workers for their cooperation with them. “Hoenigman Landscaping continues to ignore communications from federal investigators and refuses to pay these employees the back wages owed for their hard work. Those who believe they can ignore the law and continue to withhold wages and avoid penalties are deeply mistaken, and will be held accountable,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Matthew Utley in Columbus, Ohio. “The H-2B visa program helps employers fill positions with temporary foreign workers after they show they have tried and failed to recruit and hire U.S. workers. In return, they agree to accept detailed, non-negotiable terms such as paying transportation costs, prevailing wages and work locations.”Investigators calculated Hoenigman Landscaping owed the affected workers $87,653 in back wages and assessed the employer an additional $81,362 in civil money penalties after finding the company’s owner coerced workers to sign statements waiving their right to reimbursement for transportation costs, tried to stop them from talking to investigators and did not notify authorities when one H-2B worker abandoned the job site. Federal law required Hoenigman to pay the workers $16.35 per hour in 2021, but the employer paid these workers wages ranging from $11.30-$16 per hour, with most earning $13.75 per hour. In 2022, the employer should have paid workers $17.07 per hour, but most earned $15 per hour and some as little as $13.50 per hour. Hoenigman Landscaping violated H-2B program requirements when it committed similar violations for the 2012 and 2013 landscape seasons, the investigation found.Employment of H-2B workers must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peak load need or intermittent need. In 2024, about 130,000 H-2B visas are available for employers to participate in the program. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division and how to file an online complaint. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from. The division can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for Android and iOS devices in English or Spanish to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

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