The Department of Labor has sanctioned Sara Market II with a penalty of $1,000 for giving the department incorrect information about the total number of its employees. However, Labor’s hearing officer Jerry Cody determined that Sara Market’s actions were not deliberate attempts to mislead the department and suspended part of the penalty.
In its decision on July 14, DOL’s Enforcement Section made three basic allegations: That Sara Market provided false and incorrect information about the total number of its employees; that the name “Marcy Dafrow” was provided on documents to prevent the employer from hiring more U.S. qualified workers; and that the employer omitted the name “Ko, Eui Suk” to prevent the department from learning the correct number of employees.
Labor said the incorrect information was found on the total workforce listing and tax return documents collected from Sara Market this year and last.
A document from May of this year listed Marcy Dafrow as employed as of May 1 yet, according to Labor, she did not start working until June 13.
Also, the same document failed to list Sara Market’s president, Eui Suk Ko, as an employee, Labor said.
It said the error occurred again in the next month’s total workforce listing for June. The document listed six employees when in fact there should be seven, including Ko.
A tax return from 2013 listed Dafrow as a full-time employee with wages of about $1,969 per quarter. However, according to her testimony, Dafrow said she only worked part-time and did not earn that amount.
Labor’s Enforcement argued that Sara Market intentionally made these mistakes to mislead the department away from the fact that they did not employ enough U.S. workers.
Under Commonwealth law, every employer must show good faith efforts to hire U.S. workers and permanent residents to meet the targeted 30 percent of its workforce.
Ko’s agent and translator, Jin Koo Cho, took responsibility for the mistakes. He claimed that the mistakes were not deliberate but just the result of his office’s carelessness.
Cody found the evidence for intentional misrepresentation entirely circumstantial. The evidence was insufficient to conclude that the employer’s mistakes were deliberate attempts to mislead the department, he said.
However, Cody said, this did not free the employer from any wrongdoing as Ko’s testimony and demeanor showed that he had little or no knowledge that he signed the documents under penalty of perjury.
Furthermore, he said, even without any intentional fraud, the careless mistakes of Sara Market caused the department to question the veracity of all information given by Sara Market, which resulted in the case to be filed.
Because of this, Cody finds that these “errors and omissions wasted [Labor’s] time, effort, and resources, and thereby justify a monetary penalty.”
Cody said that $300 of the sanctions would be suspended for a year and then extinguished if the employer commits no further violations. The remaining $700 is to be paid on or before Aug. 15 of this year.
As for Sara Market’s hiring practices, Cody concluded they made effort to cooperate with the department to hire U.S. workers.
In October 2013, they did not employ a single U.S. citizen or permanent resident but as of July this year, Sara Market achieved the targeted 30 percent U.S.-qualified workforce.
Because of its effort and lack of evidence of past conduct, Cody concluded that Sara Market should not be sanctioned for its hiring practices.