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News » US » Workers set to receive millions in casino back-pay settlement » published 8 Mar 2018

Workers set to receive millions in casino back-pay settlement

Thousands of workers are set to receive a combined US$13.9m in back wages and damages following an investigation by the US Department of Labor (DoL).

The money is due to Chinese employees working on Saipan Casino & Hotel in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The DoL has finalized a series of settlements with the contractors employing the thousands of people who came from China for the project.

Investigators with the Department’s Wage & 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 US$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 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 US$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 & 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 US or its territories, we will continue to enforce the law and level the playing field.”

US secretary of labor Alexander Acosta said: “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.”

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

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This article was published on 8 Mar 2018 (last updated on 9 Mar 2018).

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