IPI to pay $3.4M for alleged FLSA violations

U.S. Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act over the construction of Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel and Casino in Garapan, Saipan.

 

The U.S. Labor Department investigated the casino construction project covering the periods of Jan. 22, 2016, to Dec. 19, 2017.

 

The investigation uncovered violations of the FLSA caused by the construction contractors’ failure to pay overtime and minimum wages, as well as maintain records required by the FLSA.

 

As this developed, IPI and Acosta have agreed to an entry of a consent judgment to resolve the lawsuit. IPI agreed to pay a total of $3,360,000, which is composed of $1,580,00 in back wages, another $1,580,000 in liquidated damages, and $200,000 in civil monetary penalties.

 

According to the draft consent judgment, IPI paid Acosta $300,000 last March 27. IPI shall pay to the Secretary the remaining $3,060,000 (which includes interest) in three payments $1,020,000 in December 2019, 2020, and 2021.

 

U.S. Department of Justice senior trial attorneys Cherlyl L. Adams and Boris Orlov are counsel for Acosta in the lawsuit, which was filed before the U.S. District Court for the NMI Thursday afternoon. Orlov signed the consent judgment last April 9.

 

IPI Holdings Ltd. chair Cui Li Jie, who is also the representative of IPI (CNMI) LLC, signed the consent draft judgment last April 5. Eugene R. Sullivan is counsel for IPI.

 

According to the lawsuit, Acosta determined that IPI had economic control over the casino construction project and its contractors’ construction workers on the project, making it an employer of those workers for purposes of the FLSA.

 

As a result of IPI’s contractors paying employees an hourly rate below the required federal minimum wage, defendants have violated the provisions of the FLSA.

 

Acosta asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to find defendants liable for an unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation during the period that may be found by the court to be due under the FLSA.

 

He also requested the court to hold the defendants liable to pay an additional amount for liquidated damages to the former workers.

 

More details to follow.

 

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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