$158,000 In Back Wages and Penalties to be Paid by Custer State Park Resort for Wage and Hour and H-2B Visa Violations

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Custer State Park Resort of Custer, S.D., to pay $93,000 in back wages to 72 workers employed at a major resort in South Dakota's Black Hills. The action is the result of an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that disclosed willful violations of the H-2B temporary visa program, through which the workers were hired. Additionally, the department has assessed $65,000 in civil money penalties.

Custer State Park Resort is an authorized concessionaire of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. The company's legal name is Regency CSP Ventures Limited Partnership, and it operates six major resorts in the Black Hills, including historic lodges, motels, cabins, dining facilities and gift shops.

Investigators from the division's Denver District Office found that Global Employment Agency, the agent Custer State Park Resort used to recruit and hire foreign guest workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, required impermissible payments from prospective employees ranging from $530 to $1,500. Investigators also found that H-2B employees serving as dining room attendants, front desk clerks and housekeepers often worked in excess of 40 hours per week but were not paid the required overtime wage rate for such hours.

The department assessed penalties for the following violations, in addition to the company's accepting prohibited fees and not paying proper wages: the willful misrepresentation of a material fact regarding the job offer on the application for temporary employment certification, substantially failing to comply with attestations made in the application, improperly classifying jobs, placing employees outside the intended area of employment, and failing to accurately specify in the application the dates and reasons for which temporary H-2B workers were needed.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant foreign workers to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence or for seasonal, peak load and intermittent needs. The program requires an employer to attest to the Department of Labor that it will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of the following: the prevailing wage, applicable federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or local minimum wage. This wage will be paid to the H-2B worker for the occupation in the area of intended employment during the entire period of the approved labor certification. The program also establishes certain recruitment and displacement standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers.

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