Workers who are brought from Mexico into the United States to work temporarily for a U.S. employer and paid in pesos rather than U.S. dollars, are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and require compensation no less than the minimum wage. Bloom Energy transported fourteen workers into the United States to work on power generators and paid them in pesos at a rate equal to $2.66/hour. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California found Bloom Energy in violation of Sections 6, 7, 11, 15(a)(2), and 15(a)(5) of the FLSA. The Court held that Bloom Energy was required to pay the workers at least minimum wage, compensate the workers for any overtime in excess of forty hours of work, and keep records of each worker’s earnings and hours. Finally, the Court required Bloom Energy to pay lost wages in excess of $30,000 plus an equal amount of liquidated damages to the workers, as well as $6,160 in civil penalties to the government.
Harris v. Bloom Energy Corp., No. 13-cv-00259-LHK (N.D. Cal. Jan. 30, 2013) (consent judgment and order) ; 29 U.S.C. § 201-19; see also U.S. Dep’t of Labor, “US Labor Department Investigation Reveals Silicon Valley Employer Significantly Underpaid Workers from Mexico: Judge Orders Bloom Energy Corp. to Pay Back Wages, Liquidated Damages and Penalties,” Release No. 13-0137-SAN (Feb. 4, 2013); Eric Kurhi and Brandon Bailey, “Exclusive: Whistleblower tells story of Bloom Energy workers paid in Pesos,” Mercury News (Feb. 7, 2013) available at http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22536219/exclusive-bloom-energy-whistleblower-tells-workers-paid-pesos
(Development authored by April Fuller)