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Contractor fined for denying migrant workers’ pay at Gorge

June 18, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A labor contractor denied 165 farm laborers more than $83,000 collectively in overtime pay for cleaning the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington, according to a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

Investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division said some of the employees at Espinoza Contractor LLC, owned by Guillermo Espinoza, worked up to 90 hours a week without receiving overtime pay for their work, The Seattle Times reported.

“This case is an egregious example of how scofflaws, such as Espinoza, take advantage of some of our economy’s most vulnerable workers,” Thomas Silva, wage and hour division district director in Seattle, said in a Friday statement.

The agency fined Espinoza $61,896 in civil penalties for violating migrant workers’ rights and recovered the $83,298 in back wages.

Investigators learned of the withheld overtime pay, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as they investigated the contractor for reportedly denying pay to 49 migrant workers.

The contractor also failure to register as a farm labor contractor, properly register its workers and provide workers with safe transportation, the statement said.

The Seattle Times was unable to reach Espinoza Contractor LLC for comment Friday evening.