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Traverse City cleaning company fined for violating worker visa requirements

Cleaning supplies (WCCU)
Cleaning supplies (WCCU)
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GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A Traverse City-based cleaning company is being fined for violating temporary foreign workers' requirements.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Universal Cleaners LLC will pay $56,734 in back wages to 10 temporary foreign workers who provided janitorial services and who the company paid less than the required prevailing wage rate.

The company will also pay $51,309 in civil money penalties.

DOL officials said the company found the employees through the H-2B Visa program, which helps supply employers with temporary foreign workers they need while protecting U.S. workers' access to the same jobs.

The division determined Universal Cleaners violated the H2-B Visa program when it:

  • Failed to advertise to U.S. workers that housing would be provided with this job.
  • Advertised to U.S. workers that job applicants would have to submit to a drug test and meet lifting requirements, but no employees were subject to those requirements.
  • Paid temporary foreign workers less than the required prevailing wage rate for janitorial work. The employer should have paid $12.56 per hour but instead paid $10.50 and $11.25 per hour.
  • Employed a temporary foreign worker to do landscaping, despite being hired to work as a janitor.
  • Failed to reimburse guest workers for their expenses traveling from and returning to their home countries, as required.
  • Applied for temporary foreign workers for employment from April 1 to Nov. 30 but actually employed some workers outside of that period.
  • Failed to notify proper authorities of the separation of one of the temporary foreign workers.

The division also found Universal Cleaners violated the FLSA when they failed to pay one employee overtime at the legally required rate.

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In addition to paying the penalties and back wages, Universal Cleaners agreed to use a controller to oversee all hiring, payroll and employment practices involving temporary foreign workers. The employer also hired legal counsel specializing in labor and employment law and business-related immigration matters to assist with the H-2B application process and compliance with the H-2B program, and retain a third party to perform H-2B compliance audits.

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