531 employees unpaid from August 2015 to January 2016
A settlement of more than $1.3 million in unpaid wages to Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino’s employees—plus 25 percent of the liquidated damages—was reached after the CNMI Department of Labor on Tinian heard two case hearings this month.
This comes after almost five months of Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment, Ltd.’s non-payment of wages to its 531 employees, both current and former.
HKE is the owner of Tinian Dynasty.
According to the stipulated order and consent judgment released by the Administrative Hearing Office, Tinian Dynasty admitted to its violation of obligation to pay wages.
“Respondent HKE admits that it failed to pay wages earned by more than 500 of its current and former employees, from August 2015 through January 2016 (except for the period from Dec. 12-31, 2015),” the order said.
It added that HKE has $1,321,637.09 in total wages owed as of this month.
Aside from the payment of the unpaid wages, the company was also ordered to pay its current and former employees 25 percent of the liquidated damages.
“The parties agree that HKE shall pay an additional payment to each employee or former employee of liquidated damages amounting of 25 percent of each workers owed wages,” the order said.
“This amount is intended to compensate each worker for his or her hardship of having to work without receiving timely wages/salary for a period of months,” it added.
Saipan Tribune learned that the damages liquidated would include the $1.3 million plus the amount of $343,328.39, which HKE has previously paid also as back wages to some of its employees.
This would bring the additional amount that HKE has to pay to $416,241.37.
In total, HKE will pay $1,737,878.46 to over 500 employees—390 of which are currently working—that they failed to pay.
The order set three payments: 1) HKE will pay the employees the amount assigned to them covering the first five payroll periods it failed to pay its hourly employees and the first two months of missing payments owed to salaried employees on Feb. 23; 2) HKE will pay the remaining owed wages on March 15; and 3) HKE will make an additional payment to each employee or former employee of liquidated damages.
HKE is required to provide written proofs of the payments today and on March 18.
Saipan Tribune learned that several employees already received the first payment from HKE.
DOL also sanctioned HKE $18,000 for its conduct but the amount is suspended for a period of one year and then extinguished of it does not commit any further violations until Feb. 17, 2017.
The order adds that if “HKE transfers assets to another business and is thereby left with insufficient financial reserves…the Department may take legal steps to void such transfer as fraudulent.”
It added that the obligation to pay employees “is binding upon HKE’s successors, heirs, and assigns.”
CNMI Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero said she is happy that a settlement was reached.
“I am happy that this matter has come to settle and most especially for the affected employees that have been working without their wages that they rightfully own and as a result the liquidated damages imposed are just as well deserving for the employees to compensate for the financial hardships that they had to live with for quite some time,” DeLeon Guerrero said.
She added that her department will continue to ensure the protection of employees’ rights.
“The protection of employee rights including timely payment of wages and a healthy and safe work environment is fundamental for any employer to recognize and be responsible for. The CNMI DOL is here and will continue to ensure that these protections no matter how small or large is diligently enforced benefitting a CNMI responsible business and employment environment,” DeLeon Guerrero said.