Government Crackdown on Abusive, Illegal Pay Practices in San Diego
Three More San Diego-area Customs Warehouses Found Paying Workers in Mexican Pesos at a Rate of $2.50 Per Hour in Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Federal court orders the customs warehouses to pay almost $2M in back wages, penalties.
Since the investigation of Premar Global Warehouse Logistics in September 2021, Wage and Hour Division investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) have found three more San Diego-area customs warehouses paying workers in Mexican pesos at an equivalent rate of as little as $2.50 per hour in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Based on these investigations, the DOL’s Office of the Solicitor reached consent judgments against the three employers, Columbia Export Group PDSA, OMG Global Logistics and Atlas Freight Forwarding, resulting in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ordering the companies to pay nearly $2 million combined in minimum and overtime back wages to 108 workers.
The companies have also been ordered to pay $56,675 in penalties given their reckless disregard of the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.
DOL investigators determined Columbia Export Group PDSA, OMG Global Logistics, and Atlas Freight Forwarding engaged in similar schemes to exploit workers and circumvent the FLSA, including using affiliates in Mexico to pay their employees as if they worked in Mexico, not in the United States.
Findings of the U.S. Department of Labor investigations
- A.G.A. Investments II Inc. – operating as Columbia Export Group – and owner Arturo Ruffo denied federal minimum wages and overtime premiums to employees crossing the border every day to work at the company’s Otay Mesa warehouse. The court ordered the defendants to pay $267,408 in minimum wages and $648,269 in overtime to 60 employees, and $34,958 in penalties. Columbia Export Group has locations in Ensenada, Tijuana, La Paz, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.
- OMG Freight Forwarders, OMG Global Logistics and owner Oscar Mayer paid workers crossing from Mexico to work at the company’s Otay Mesa warehouse below minimum wage and denied overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The employer paid the shortchanged workers through an affiliate’s payroll in Mexico as direct deposit in Mexican pesos. The company paid employees as little as $2.50 per hour. The court ordered the company to pay $233,141 in minimum wages and $588,932 in overtime to 31 employees, and $10,921 in penalties.
- Atlas Freight Forwarding Inc. of San Diego paid workers at its Otay Mesa warehouse at a flat rate and in Mexican pesos for all hours worked. The company used the payroll of its Tijuana-based Coordinadora de Servicios Aduanales Atlas to process the payments. The court ordered the company to pay $111,584 in minimum and overtime back wages to 13 employees, and $10,790 in penalties.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor