PANAMA CITY BEACH – A Panama City Beach resort and restaurant group will have to pay $60,000 in back wages and fines after federal investigators determined that they cheated their employees. 

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), By The Sea Resorts Inc. – based in Panama City Beach, Florida – will pay $38,513 in back wages to 78 guest workers for violating overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and labor provisions of the H-2B visa program.

In total, $7,304 in back wages were found as a result of FLSA violations, while $31,209 in back wages were found for H-2B violations. By The Sea Resorts Inc. also paid a civil penalty of $12,695.

By The Sea Resorts Inc. manages resorts and restaurants in the Panama City Beach area that include Beachbreak, Legacy, Shalimar Retreat Center, Sugar Sands, Chateau, and Ocean Breeze. WHD investigators found the employer hired 117 Jamaican employees to work as housekeepers under the H-2B visa program.

The employer violated the H-2B provisions by placing those employees in occupations not listed on the temporary employment certification that they submitted, such as front desk personnel, dishwashers, and bartenders, while paying them as housekeepers, officials wrote. 

WHD also determined By The Sea Resorts Inc. automatically made deductions from workers’ time for meal breaks regardless of whether or not they actually took those breaks. These deductions led to FLSA overtime violations when the employer deducted time for breaks that workers did not take and this unpaid and un-recorded time resulted in the employees working more than 40 hours in a workweek. 

“Employers seeking H-2B workers must abide by all of the program’s requirements, including placing those workers only in occupations listed in their employment certifications,” said Wage and Hour District Director Daniel White, in Jacksonville. “The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to safeguard American jobs and level the playing field for law-abiding employers. We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division by phone, online, or to attend any of our many outreach events for assistance and to learn more about their responsibilities.”