Puerto Rico Recovery Workers to Get $1.2M for Wage Claims

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By John Herzfeld

A Louisiana-based fuel distributor agreed to pay $1.15 million in back wages to 219 workers employed under U.S. storm recovery contracts after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September.

Macro Cos. Inc. of Broussard, La., violated overtime, benefits, and record-keeping requirements of three federal laws in paying the workers a fixed daily salary regardless of the number of hours they actually worked, without fringe benefits, the Labor Department said in announcing the wage action April 11.

The case marks an effort by the department to crack down on wage violations in the recovery from the storm, the worst in Puerto Rico’s history.

Macro’s pay arrangement ran afoul of overtime provisions of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, the fringe benefits provisions of the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and the record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department said.

Future Compliance

The company will work with the department’s Wage and Hour Division to ensure compliance in pay practices in other projects and contracts outside of Puerto Rico.

The contracting standards law requires contractors on federal service contracts of more than $100,000 to pay workers overtime after 40 hours in a work week. The SCA requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts to pay the prevailing wage and benefits to service employees.

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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