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CA Company That Underpaid Mexican Workers Ordered To Pay Damages

A Silicon Valley company employed U.S. and Mexican workers to work alongside each other to refurbish several power generators. Those who were U.S. citizens were paid in dollars and those who were Mexican citizens were paid in pesos. After converting the amount received in pesos to American dollars, the Mexican workers were determined to have received $2.66/hour for their work.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. The Mexican workers were paid substantially less than this amount, which meant that the company, Bloom Energy Corporation, was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy has agreed to pay back wages to the workers who were grossly underpaid because of its unfair payment practices.

In addition, the 14 workers brought to California from Chihuahua, Mexico will be paid a liquidated damages amount equal to the amount of back wages paid by order of a U.S. District Court judge. The U.S. Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division brought suit against Bloom Energy for willful violations of the FLSA including the payment of overtime at time and a half, paying at least the federal minimum wage and keeping accurate records of hours worked by employees.

Bloom Energy is a ‘green company’ that builds generators that produce power onsite, where the power will be consumed. The company’s mission is. “[T]o make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone on earth.”

Bloom ships products to several major corporations but was required to stop doing so until the FLSA issues were resolved. In addition to mandating minimum wage and other fair labor practices, the FLSA prohibits the shipping of goods manufactured under circumstances that violate the FLSA from being shipped and sold across state lines.

Source: United States Department of Labor, “US Labor Department investigation reveals Silicon Valley employer significantly underpaid workers from Mexico,” February 4, 2012

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