Public Citizen Sues DOL Over Six-Year Delay in Resolving Migrant Wage Cases; Workers Are Owed Legally Mandated Wages

Administration Must Close Long-Pending Appeals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) must require employers to pay thousands of migrant workers their legally mandated wages, Public Citizen said in a lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of five H-2B workers.

Following a federal court ruling, the DOL issued a rule in 2013 that changed the way the minimum wage for H-2B workers was calculated to more accurately reflect the higher wages paid to U.S. workers. Thousands of employers appealed the rule and refused to pay workers those increased rates for 2013. Those appeals have been in administrative limbo for six years. As a result, thousands of workers have gone without the pay that both DOL and a federal court concluded federal law requires.

The five workers Public Citizen represents worked mostly in landscaping in Missouri, Maryland, Pennsylvania and California during 2013.

In the lawsuit, Public Citizen contends that DOL is violating the Administrative Procedure Act by engaging in unreasonable delay and acting arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to resolve the employer appeals. The lawsuit demands that DOL resolve the appeals so that workers get paid the wages they are owed.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante is co-counsel on the lawsuit which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“Justice has been delayed far too long because of miserly employers and an administration that is happy to do nothing while workers go without the wages owed them,” said Adam Pulver, the Public Citizen attorney representing the workers. “The Trump administration must stop delaying and ensure the companies comply with the law.”