Wedding planner Wave USA Inc., has paid eight employees some $35,481 in back wages and damages following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.
Honolulu Wage and Hour Division investigators found that the company, doing business as Ka Nalu Wedding, Blue Blue Flowers, hired eight Japanese nationals through a J-1 visa training program who were then primarily employed as front-line workers.
The employees were paid as little as $4 an hour instead of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Investigators also found that the company failed to pay the overtime premium of time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 in one week, to an additional 17 workers.
Basic minimum wage laws generally apply to J-1 visa holders, “and we encourage those who are working and not being paid the minimum wage or overtime to contact the Wage Hour Division if they have questions,” said Terence Trotter, Honolulu District director, in a statement. Paying the workers below minimum wage not only deprived the employees, but also gave Wave USA an “unfair advantage over its competitors,” he said.