”…the hospitality industry is “always on the radar” for potential violations because it employs large numbers of H-2B and younger workers…”
In June and July, employment law firms began issuing legislative alerts to hospitality industry clients, warning them of plans by Wage and Hour Division officials to launch investigations of the hotel and motel industry beginning Oct. 1.
These investigations will center on compliance with H-2B visa program requirements and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The H-2B visa program allows businesses needing one-time, seasonal, peak-load, or intermittent staffing to use foreign workers as temporary labor.
Dolores Quesenberry, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Labor, told Carolina Journal that she was unaware of any increased complaints, but did say the hospitality industry is “always on the radar” for potential violations because it employs large numbers of H-2B and younger workers.
Paul Stone, president of North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, told CJ that the lodging and restaurant industry is North Carolina’s second largest employer, with approximately 500,000 workers, accounting for 10 percent of the state’s total workforce. Of the 1,600 hotels in North Carolina, only a few employ H-2B workers, Stone said, mostly because the program is so restrictive. Before hiring an H-2B worker, for example, an employer must certify there are no domestic applicants qualified for the position.
Stone wonders why hospitality employers are being targeted with the economy mired in recession. Wage and hour audits and similar investigations disrupt operations and increase costs, especially if an employer has to engage outside counsel or auditors, said Stone.