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More than $213,000 in back wages were recovered for student workers from Exel Inc.; The SHS Group LP, a staffing firm; and the Council for Educational Travel-USA, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The money will go to 1,028 foreign student workers who were employed in summer jobs at a distribution center operated by Exel in Palmyra, Penn., where they repackaged candies for promotional displays. The distribution center was owned by the Hershey Co.
The Department of Labor found violations of minimum wage and overtime laws caused by excessive housing costs charged to foreign students employed at the Palmyra site.
The SHS Group placed the workers at the Palmyra site under a contract with Exel. The council for Educational Travel-USA acted as the students’ sponsor in the program. In addition to the back wages, SHS was assessed an additional penalty of $5,000 for repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Council for Education Travel-USA had its designation as program sponsor terminated by the State Department.
Exel also agreed to pay $143,000 in penalties to resolve citations for violations of occupational noise exposure standard and record-keeping violations.
The investigation came in response to a complaint filed by the National Guestworker Alliance. The workers’ J-1 visas had been sponsored by the Council for Educational Travel-USA.
Foreign students had staged a protest in 2011 over practices at the distribution center. Read the New York Times story here.