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DOL orders employer to pay worker $6,200

THE CNMI Department of Labor has ordered an employer to pay a worker $5,200 in unpaid wages and $1,000 in liquidated damages.

Hearing Officer Jerry Cody said ABO International Corporation, a rent-a-car business, must pay Pandiyan K. Sevugan a total of $6,200 in 30 days.

Sevugan filed a complaint against his former employer, Bo Zhong, in Aug. 2016 over unpaid wages.

Sevugan was hired by Zhong in 2015 to work as a driver and supervisor of the employer’s car-rental business on Saipan.

The hiring was based on an oral agreement and was not put in writing.

Based on the oral agreement, Zhong agreed to pay Sevugan a monthly salary of $1,500.

Prior to Sevugan’s working for ABO, he was employed as a driver at Zhong’s other company, American CM Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.

Zhong also maintained several apartments used by tourist clients.

Sevugan’s duties included driving clients, picking up tourists and driving them to various locations. He was also tasked with supervising construction workers who were renovating several apartments owned by Zhong.

Sevugan said his work hours varied every day. Sometimes he would be asked to pick up tourists at the airport day and night. He said he also had to drive Zhong’s girlfriend when she wanted to shop, and he likewise performed errands for Zhong’s friends.

But neither Zhong or Sevugan kept track of the employee’s actual work hours or work schedule.

Sevugan received a salary of $1,500 from February through December 2015. But beginning in Jan. 2016, he said Zhong failed to pay him the full amount of his salary and just gave him a check for $1,000.

In the months that followed from February through December 2016, Sevugan said he received only $500 per month.

In July 2016, Sevugan received no salary. On July 24, 2016 he quit his job and filed a complaint with the DOL’s hearing office.

Cody in his order said the employer failed to follow the CNMI law requiring employers to issue detailed time and payroll information to employees.

“For many months in 2016,” Cody said, “the employer paid the employee in cash and provided him with no details whatsoever regarding the number of hours being compensated, the hourly rate of pay, the deductions taken etc. In addition, the employer utterly failed to make any effort whatsoever to keep track of the actual hours being worked by the employee. Such conduct violates the CNMI Minimum Wage and Hour Act.”