Wage theft investigation
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Labor is seen in Washington, D.C., Aug. 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Three San Diego-area companies that authorities say underpaid their employees have agreed to pay more than $1.5 million in back wages and damages.

Two of the cases involve companies that do business in both the U.S. and Mexico, according to a federal Department of Labor statement, while one planned a move to Tijuana.

In the largest case, Freig Carrillo Forwarding Inc., was found to have paid employees in Mexican pesos at rates well below the federal minimum wage, authorities said.

A consent judgment entered earlier this month in San Diego federal court orders Freig Carrillo and its owner, Javier Martin Freig Carrillo, to pay $1 million in back wages and damages to 35 workers.

The employer also must pay $26,215 in civil penalties for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Department of Labor said that between 2019 and 2021, Mexican workers at the firm’s San Diego warehouses were denied minimum wage and overtime wages, with some paid as low as $3.24 per hour. They were typically paid flat rates of $180-$200 per week for work weeks that averaged nearly 45 hours.

In addition, investigators found that a Carlsbad manufacturer, Providien Injection Molding Inc., paid a flat weekly salary in Mexican pesos to technicians who traveled from the company’s Tijuana location to work at its North County facility.

The company must pay $465,993 in back wages and damages for 44 employees, some of whom were paid at rates as low as $3.29 an hour.

The restitution includes $217,402 in overtime back wages for all of the affected workers, and an additional $15,594 in minimum wages owed to 13 workers, plus $232,996 in liquidated damages.

The department’s Wage and Hours Division assessed Providien with a $25,935 civil penalty.  

ACV Logistics Inc. also agreed to a settlement with the Department of Labor to pay $70,104 in back wages and damages to 15 workers, and was assessed a $12,105 penalty.

The department said that a review of payroll records from 2020 to 2022 showed some of its workers being paid as little as $2.43 an hour.

The Department of Labor said more than $2 million has been collected from San Diego employers since 2021 for similar labor practices.

– Staff and wire reports