Business

Florida resort owner owes $51,000 in back pay and fines for mistreating Jamaican workers

Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach mlambert@miamiherald.com

A company that manages several Panama City Beach resorts and restaurants owes $38,513 in back pay, and will pay $12,695 in civil fines after Department of Labor violations over the treatment of H-2B visa workers from Jamaica.

The Department of Labor announced the fines Friday. According to By the Sea’s website, the company owns seven Panama City Beach beachfront hotels, two group retreats and two beachfront restaurants.

By the Sea Resorts imported the workers under the program that allows for the hiring of non-immigrants for limited-time work that isn’t agricultural. Seasonal work at resorts such as Ocean Breeze By the Sea, Chateau By the Sea, Sugar Sands by the Sea, Beachbreak By the Sea, Legacy By the Sea and Shalimar Retreat and Conference Center can be filled by workers on H-2B visas.

But Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found that By the Sea didn’t play by the book with the 117 Jamaican employees brought to Panama City as housekeepers.

“The employer violated the H-2B provisions by placing those employees in occupations not listed on the temporary employment certification that they submitted, such as front desk personnel, dishwashers, and bartenders, while paying them as housekeepers,” Labor said.

That puts them under, among others, the purview of Corporate Director of Operations Robyn Evans (overseeing Maintenance, Housekeeping and Front Desk); Corporate Director of Food & Beverage Shane Miller; and Corporate Director of Human Resources Corina Nall.

By the Sea also deducted pay for meal breaks even if the workers didn’t take a meal break. And Labor said, “this unpaid and un-recorded time resulted in the employees working more than 40 hours in a workweek,” entitling them to overtime that wasn’t paid.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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