The acting U.S. Secretary of Labor’s explanation for the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division office in Kendall, given Thursday as she bounced about Miami-Dade County, boiled down to that basic asset: location, location, location.
“Today, we announced a new office in Miami that’s closer to where our most vulnerable workers live,” Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su said.
Live and work. While “Kendall” usually calls to mind middle class-family SUV service industry suburbia, you don’t have to go too much farther down Florida’s Turnpike to find the blue collar or straw hat workers most often on the victim end of Wage and Hour Division investigations. Also, they’re the workers least likely to complain about mistreatment for fear of retaliation.
Su made clear she wanted workers to know that Labor had the “power to protect working people.”
Su also noted the bus stop on the sidewalk outside 11400 SW 88th St. aka 11400 N. Kendall Dr., putting the office steps from workers whose finances give them no other transportation option or who choose often-long bus rides to work over gas, tolls, car payments and ever-rising car insurance.
The Wage and Hour Division investigates violations of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which include not paying a worker for work done; paying someone under minimum wage; and not properly paying eligible workers overtime when they work beyond 40 hours in a week. The most recent FLSA issue in Miami-Dade involved Patel Shippers, a Homestead company that owed workers $71,000 in back pay and damages.
But, Wage and Hour also looks into violations of various programs, including the H-2A guest worker visa program, a popular program with Florida agricultural companies. Program parameters concerning housing, meals, transportation and pay protect workers from abuse — when employers treat within the lines.
Miami-Dade or Broward workers who think they’ve been violated under FLSA, H-2A, Family and Medical Leave Act or a number of other laws and programs can go by a Wage and Hour Division office in Kendall (11400 SW 88th St., No. 201) or Fort Lauderdale (510 Shotgun Rd.); call 305-598-6607, 954-356-6896 or 866-487-9243 (866-4US-WAGE); or go to the complaint section of Labor’s website.