| Central Penn Business Journal
U.S. Labor fines midstate companies over foreign workers
The U.S. Department of Labor today proposed fines of $288,000 against Exel Inc. and SHS Staffing Solutions, the companies partnered with The Hershey Co. to staff and operate its Palmyra warehouse, for their roles in workplace violations involving foreign students in the summer of 2011.
The companies and the nonprofit Council for Education Travel USA, known as CETUSA, fell under investigation and heavy criticism after foreign students on J-1 work-travel cultural visas protested their treatment and working conditions at the Palmyra warehouse.
The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Ohio-based Exel for nine safety and health violations, including six willful violations. The company failed to record illnesses and injuries with the department over four years, according to OSHA. It was fined $283,000 for all violations.
Lemoyne-based SHS Staffing was fined $5,000 for not providing adequate training to temporary workers for handling energy sources, which could have lead to death or serious injury and it should have known about, according to OSHA.
The companies have 15 days to respond to and comply with their citations and penalties.
The Labor Department said it still is investigating the companies and CETUSA for potential violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Hershey, based in Derry Township, Dauphin County, was not cited or fined, according to the department. The foreign students were employed at the Exel warehouse packaging Hershey candies for promotional displays.