Jul. 25, 2012
DOL Issues over $248,000 in Penalties to Walmart Supplier
Baton Rouge, LA--The U.S. Department of Labor has issued over $248,000 in penalties against C.J.'s Seafood Inc. in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited C.J.'s Seafood with 11 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for exposing workers to blocked exit, fire, electrical and chemical hazards. Additionally, the department's Wage and Hour Division found that the company failed to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation to 73 workers as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to comply with provisions of the H-2B temporary foreign worker visa program established under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office conducted an investigation of the company's facility in Breaux Bridge, where employees peel and boil seafood. Some of the serious violations cited pertain to the building not being equipped with fire extinguishers, exit signs or emergency eyewash stations. In addition, electrical breakers were not labeled, electrical outlets were not covered, an exit was blocked and temporary wiring was being used instead of permanent wiring. Finally, the employer did not have a written hazard communications program and did not make material safety data sheets available to employees to inform them of hazards in the workplace. These citations carry proposed penalties of $32,200. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The Wage and Hour Division's New Orleans District Office conducted an investigation that found C.J.'s Seafood violated the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime compensation and record-keeping requirements by paying "straight time" instead of the required overtime rate for hours beyond 40 in a workweek; making illegal deductions from employees' wages for items required by their jobs, such as gloves, hairnets and aprons; and failing to maintain records of the hours employees worked. The employer also violated H-2B provisions by misrepresenting its temporary need for foreign workers, including the dates of need and number of workers needed, and also by failing to pay the required wage rate.