DOL seeks extension of determination deadline in labor complaint filed against IPI

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THE CNMI Department of Labor-Enforcement and Compliance Division has requested  attorney Janet King to agree to an extension of the determination deadline  for the labor complaint filed by 26 H-2B workers against Imperial Pacific International LLC.

The determination deadline was on May 29, 2020.

King, on behalf of the 26 workers, filed their labor complaint with CNMI DOL in December 2019.

The complaint is seeking an award of damages and repatriation costs.

The DOL enforcement section requested an extension of the determination deadline for up to three months due to the administration memorandum and Covid-19 pandemic public health emergency declaration that shut down all government offices.

DOL said for this reason, the investigator was not able to conduct investigations and issue a determination.

In addition, the investigator assigned to these cases was furloughed in April 2020, DOL said, adding: “These cases are yet to be reassigned to another investigator.”

The 26 workers sued IPI for breach of contract, unlawful termination, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, loss of wages-failure to provide work.

Attorney Janet King files a labor complaint on behalf of 26 Taiwanese workers against IPI in December 2019. Photo by Bryan Manabat

The workers alleged that IPI also made them perform additional duties and not for the jobs for which they were hired.

According to the workers, they were terminated and replaced “en masse” by workers from Mongolia and Turkey who were paid lower wages.

The 26 workers from Taiwan, were recruited and hired by IPI to work on the construction of the casino facility and were classified under the H-2B program, the complaint stated.

On Nov. 15, 2019, the workers were told that their employment was being terminated.

The workers’ H-2B status was valid until January 30, 2020.

According to their lawyer, “By terminating the workers’ employment contracts without ‘just cause,’ prior to the expiration of their employment contracts, IPI clearly committed breach of contract.”

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