Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Meat Plant Fined for Work Document Violations

A meat processing plant in Illinois has some boning up to do on immigration law.

The Justice Department on Monday announced it has signed a settlement agreement with West Liberty Foods L.L.C., an Iowa-based meat processing business that operates a plant in Bolingbrook, Illinois, to resolve the Department’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Department’s investigation revealed that West Liberty Foods routinely asked non-U.S. citizens hired at its Bolingbrook location to present specific documents, such as permanent resident cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to establish their work authority but did not make similar requests of U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to more or different documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the settlement, West Liberty Foods will pay a civil penalty of $52,100 to the United States, ensure that its human resources staff participate in department-provided training, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

“When verifying an employee’s work authorization, employers must ensure that they do not impose unlawful barriers based on citizenship status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend West Liberty Foods for its cooperation with the Department’s investigation, and look forward to working with the company to implement this agreement.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin, or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.


Utility Dinged Six Figures For Trench Hazards

This Florida utility is a dangerous place to work, according to government safety regulators.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.

OSHA initiated its investigation after an employee was injured and hospitalized when an unprotected trench collapsed. Willful citations were issued for exposing employees to struck-by and caught-in hazards, and allowing employees to work without cave-in protection. The company was also issued a serious citation for allowing water to accumulate in the trench, which contributed to the collapse. The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Jax Utilities Management Inc. has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Trenching and excavation hazards are preventable,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA Jacksonville Area Office Director. “This employer knowingly exposed employees to dangerous and potentially fatal hazards, and this injury could have been avoided if the employer had used required protective systems.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit

Staffing Firm Out $50K in ADEA Settlement

Few employers are apparently as dumb as this one when it comes to putting out its age bias for all to see.

Diverse Lynx, LLC, a Princeton, New Jersey-based IT staffing firm with offices in Princeton and Noida, India, will pay $50,000 and will undertake significant remedial measures to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC alleged that Diverse Lynx violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when, after learning an applicant’s date of birth, the company sent the applicant an email stating that he would no longer be considered for the position because he was “born in 1945” and “age will matter.” The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age, including discrimination in referrals by employment agencies.

Under the consent decree entered by the Court, Diverse Lynx is prohibited from considering an applicant’s age when deciding whether to refer them to a job opening. In addition, Diverse Lynx may not request or solicit an applicant’s year of birth before referring the applicant to a prospective employer. Diverse Lynx has agreed that it will provide its employees, including its managers and supervisors, with live training that addresses federal anti-discrimination laws, and complaint and reporting procedures. Diverse Lynx also agrees that it will not retaliate against persons who complain of discriminatory conduct or practices.

“A basic principle of anti-discrimination law requires that job applicants be judged on their individual qualifications. Employers and employment agencies that consider an applicant’s protected trait, such as age, violate federal law and will be prosecuted,” said EEOC senior trial attorney Rosemary DiSavino.

Kevin Berry, district director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “This case should send a clear message that federal anti-discrimination laws apply to employment agencies as well as employers. An employment agency’s refusal to refer a qualified applicant because of the applicant’s age is a plain violation of the ADEA.”

The New York District Office oversees New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and most of New Jersey.

EEOC: N.C. Nursing Home Violated Pregnant Workers’ Rights to Light Duty Assignments

If you accommodate nonpregnant employees injured on the job, you can’t be any less accommodating to pregnant workers.

Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc., doing business as Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, a North Carolina corporation, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related work restrictions of two employees, resulting in the employees’ termination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Scottish Pines offered light duty or job modifications to accommodate the temporary restrictions of certified nursing assistants (CNA) who were injured at work. However, the company refused to grant similar accommodations or modifications to CNAs who experienced pregnancy-related work restrictions. The EEOC says that in November 2014, the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related lifting restriction of CNA Mary Jacobs and instead placed her on unpaid leave. The company terminated Jacobs in February 2015 when her leave expired and she was unable to return to work without the pregnancy-related restriction.

Further, the EEOC says, in December 2015, CNA Laketa Watts notified Scottish Pines of her pregnancy-related work restrictions, including a 20-pound lifting restriction. According to the EEOC’s suit, the company refused to accommodate Watts’ work restrictions. At all times relevant, the company had mechanical lifting devices to lift patients and did not prohibit CNAs from seeking assistance from co-workers to manually lift patients. Accordingly, the EEOC contends that Jacobs’ and Watts’ pregnancy-related work restrictions could have been accommodated.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc. d/b/a Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Civil Action No 1:18-cv-00170) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Jacobs and Watts.

“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”

EEOC: Air Service Company Suspended Employee Because of Medical Conditions

Employees that have health battles shouldn’t have to fight for a reasonable accommodation from their employer.

ABM Aviation, Inc., formerly Air Serv Corporation, an aviation industry cleaning and services provider at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., violated federal law when it denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and terminated her employment due to her disabilities, cardiomyopathy and acute myeloid leukemia, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC further alleged that ABM discriminated against the employee when it suspended her for absences related to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. ABM Aviation, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-957-SCJ JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“ABM recklessly disregarded the federally protected rights of this employee to earn a living and provide for her family given a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to honor anti-discrimination laws if we are to see significant, long-term change in the way society views individuals with disabilities and the value they add to the workforce.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Supporting the medical needs of their employees to allow reasonable accommodations of disabilities should be a top priority for all employers not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.”

DOL: Chinese Companies Bilked Contractors $13.9M in Unpaid Wages for Saipan Hotel Work

According to the Labor Department, these Chinese-based construction contractors screwed over their workforce on minimum wage and overtime pay.

The U.S. Department of Labor has finalized a series of settlements with contractors on Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that will pay a collective $13.9 million in back wages and damages to thousands of employees who came from China to build the Saipan Casino and Hotel on the island.

Investigators with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that the foreign-based construction contractors paid their workforce less than the minimum wage and overtime pay required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Four China-based construction contractors – MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., Beilida New Materials System Engineering Co. Ltd., Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, and Sino Great Wall International Engineering Co. LLC – have entered into formal agreements to pay $13,972,425 in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 2,400 employees.

MCC, Beilida and Gold Mantis also employed workers brought to Saipan as “tourists” from China under a tourist visa waiver program offered by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These Chinese “tourists” worked at the casino job site without proper work visas. In addition to being paid in violation of the minimum wage and overtime requirements, these workers also incurred debt of $6,000 or more when they were required to pay their own airfare and recruitment fees prior to their employment on Saipan.

“These settlements ensure that thousands of workers will receive the wages they legally earned, while simultaneously sending a strong, clear message to other employers,” said Wage and Hour Acting Administrator Bryan Jarrett. “Employers who evade the law in an attempt to reduce expenses must not gain a competitive advantage over those who play by the rules.  Regardless of where work is performed in the U.S. or its territories, we will continue to enforce the law and level the playing field.”

“As the Department of Labor works to prevent visa fraud and abuse, this case represents an example of the Department’s strong commitment to protecting the American workforce by enforcing the law,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Imperial Pacific International contracted with various China-based companies for the construction of its Saipan Casino and Hotel project. These settlements resolve a portion of the Wage and Hour Division’s wide-ranging investigation into the ongoing casino and hotel project.

The Department’s Office of the Solicitor negotiated the settlements.

May 11 Start Date for Beryllium Exposure Rule

It’s four years in the making, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for a rule on exposure to beryllium.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Friday that it will start enforcement of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general, construction, and shipyard industries on May 11, 2018. This timeframe will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors. The start of enforcement had previously been set for March 12, 2018.

In January 2017, OSHA issued new comprehensive health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries. In response to feedback from stakeholders, the agency is considering technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will clarify and simplify compliance with requirements. OSHA will also begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.  In the interim, if an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL, OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

I’ve been tracking the rule’s progress. Type in “beryllium” in the search bar to read my posts on it.