LONG ISLAND, NY – A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found that a Southampton landscaping company failed to comply with requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the federal H-2B worker program and will recover over $1 million in back wages and liquidated damages for 54 underpaid workers.The investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that over a three-year period, Dario’s Landscaping & Masonry Inc., doing business as Dario’s Landscaping, violated the FLSA when it did not pay employees any overtime for hours worked over 40 in a workweek and provided false records to division investigators to attempt covering up wage violations.The division found that between October 2018 and October 2021, the employer failed to pay H-2B workers the correct rate, threatened that H-2B workers would not be re-hired if they cooperated with division investigators and coached workers to give false testimony. These actions violated the requirements of the H-2B worker program, which allows businesses to employ workers on temporary visas for seasonal labor.On Feb. 16, 2024, a federal judge issued a consent judgment, requiring Dario’s Landscaping to pay $484,690 in FLSA back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 54 workers. On Jan. 22, 2024, an administrative law judge approved H-2B consent findings, ordering Dario’s Landscaping to pay an additional $31,710 in back wages to 29 of the workers. Dario’s Landscaping will also pay civil money penalties of $98,908. In total, the employer will pay $1.1 million, plus $12,021 in post-judgment interest, and will be debarred from the H-2B program for one year. The order also requires that Dario’s Landscaping engage a compliance consultant, train managers and educate workers about their rights.“The U.S. Department of Labor will pursue all necessary legal actions to ensure that employers are held accountable when they fail to uphold their obligations to comply with federal laws,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.“Unfortunately, H-2B program workers are vulnerable to being shortchanged by employers,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director David An in Westbury, New York. “H-2B employers that willfully disregard the law could face debarment and costly penalties.”   The federal H-2B worker program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the U.S. The employment must be for a limited period, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal, peak load or intermittent need.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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of where they are from. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – free and now available in Spanish – to track hours and pay.

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