Companies pay $350,000 in Exel foreign worker settlementJim T. Ryan
The U.S. Department of Labor said today it has recovered more than $350,000 in back wages and penalties from The SHS Group, the Council for Educational Travel-USA and Exel Inc. as part of a settlement relating to foreign workers packaging Hershey's candy in Palmyra last year.
Lemoyne-based staffing firm SHS Group, California-based CETUSA and Ohio-based logistics company Exel agreed to pay $213,042 in back wages to the foreign workers after the Labor Department found wage and overtime violations at the Palmyra warehouse.
The violations stem from excessive housing costs charged to the students, who were participating in the U.S. State Department's Summer Work Travel program.
The groups also agreed to pay $143,000 in fines for safety and health violations found at the Exel-operated facility.
"We are pleased by the efforts Exel in particular will be making to ensure future compliance," said Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division. "The decision of these companies to play by the rules is a positive step that will ensure that workers are treated fairly, as is legally required."
SHS Group contracted with Exel to hire and place the students at the warehouse. CETUSA was a sponsor in the State Department program. Its status has since been terminated in that work-travel program.
The Labor Department had proposed fines of $288,000 against Exel and SHS Group back in February. Dauphin County-based The Hershey Co. wasn't cited or fined in February, and the department said today Hershey is not at all involved.
The companies and CETUSA came under heavy criticism after the foreign students protested their working conditions last summer.