Labor awards $42,487 to five workers
Tag: Ben Castro, Consul Jr, Pepito Lorenzo, Philippines
The CNMI Department of Labor has sanctioned a construction company and awarded a total of $42,487 to five of the company’s former CW-1 workers.
In an order on Wednesday, Labor administrative hearing officer Jerry Cody sanctioned Femina T. Martinez, operator of JHP Construction, a total of $4,000 for her conduct.
Cody, however, suspended $2,000 of the sanction for two years, provided that Martinez complies with the terms of his order and commits no further violations of labor laws.
Martinez was given 90 days from Wednesday to pay the $2,000 fine.
Martinez was held liable to pay her five former workers—Moises E. Cardona, Ricky C. Calisaan, Elmer R. Consul Jr., Kerwin M. Dayao, and Joselito C. Carreon—for unauthorized deductions and unpaid wages, in liquidated damages, and in contractual damages for unprovided work.
Cardona is awarded $9,145.48; Calisaan, $8,302.10; Consul, $8,246.80; Dayao, $8,041.26; and Carreon, $8,751.40.
Of the five, Cardona has already returned to the Philippines after filing the complaint and meeting with the Labor investigator.
According to Labor records, Martinez submitted CW-1 petitions to hire the five employees, who were living in the Philippines, to work on Saipan as construction workers.
Each of the five employees entered into written one-year contracts with Martinez, from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017. Each contract stated that “regular hours” of work shall total 40 hours per week and that any hours worked more than 40 hours shall be considered overtime and paid at 1.5 times the regular rate.
The CW-1 petitions were approved and the employees entered the CNMI in January 2017 and began working at the employer’s construction site in Dandan on Jan. 23, 2017.
The employees worked full-time, and often overtime, building a house in Dandan, from Jan. 23 until the end of April 2017.
At the end of April, Martinez informed the employees that she did not have the money to pay their wages for the last two weeks of April, or thereafter.
At that point, the employees stopped working and sought help from Labor.
At the Labor administrative hearing office’s compliance agency case hearing last May 31, all five workers except Cardona appeared. Martinez appeared with her common-law husband, Pepito Lorenzo. Labor Enforcement and Compliance Section representative Ben Castro also appeared.
In his order, Cody determined that Martinez committed various errors in her payroll involving the employees from January through April 2017.
Cody found out that Martinez paid wages at the rate of $6.05 per hour instead of $6.55 per hour for three weeks.
Cody also found out that Martinez improperly deducted amounts to reimburse herself for processing of CW-1 petitions; improperly paid overtime hours using a straight time rate rather than the overtime rate; and failed to pay the employees for the work performed in the last two weeks of April 2017.
Cody said Martinez announced in late April 2017, and again at the hearing, that she is financially unable to pay wages to employees to finish the construction project.
Martinez said her “client” has stopped paying into the project; therefore, she has no ability to pay for employees’ wages or materials.
“These facts establish that employer has breached each employment contract by failing to provide employees with work for five months, from May through September 2017,” Cody said.