Am. Samoa Government Employees Paid For Overtime

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Over $916,000 allocated after U.S. Labor settlement

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 30, 2013) – Close to 300 American Samoa Government (ASG) employees will be receiving their overtime paychecks in accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) settlement between the ASG and the DOL, says Treasurer Dr. Falema’o Phil Pili.

The settlement agreement between USDOL and ASG is over unpaid overtime to ASG workers, following a federal probe some two years ago. Falema’o told Samoa News the government employees whose names are on the distribution list are to appear in person to pick up their settlement disbursements at the Executive Office Building on Wednesday and Thursday.

"Disbursement dates will be Wednesday July 31, 2013 for those with their last names beginning from the letter A to M. On Thursday August 1, 2013 will be the individuals with last names beginning with the letter N to Z." Disbursement will begin at 8a.m. on both days.

"These disbursements are a settlement directive from the USDOL Investigator Michael Eastwood during his site visit several years ago." The Treasurer told Samoa News that $916,000+ has been allocated to pay for this settlement, and this money was among ASG’s $5 million supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2013.

According to the notice issued by the Department of Treasury, ASG employees who have any queries regarding the disbursement should refer directly to their department's payroll and personnel division and the USDOL.

A majority of the employees who are receiving this settlement are with the Department of Public Safety.

"ASG is only processing settlement agreements and disbursements approved by DOL," said Falema’o.

The Treasurer explained that for individuals who are no longer working with the ASG employment system for various reasons — including those who passed away — questions must be directed to Heidi Leasiolagi and Levi Reese for instructions on processing the disbursement.

In February, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, in complying with the administrative settlement from the USDOL, issued a directive for an ASG Corrective Action Plan to ensure full compliance when it comes to federal labor laws in American Samoa.

The governor noted in his executive order the USDOL in late 2011 found ASG "to be non-compliant" with certain provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding payment of overtime and calculation of compensatory time.

ASG agreed in the administrative settlement to resolve the matter by bringing itself into compliance with FLSA, said Lolo, who has already made public the monetary settlement payment of $916,093 to USDOL which will settle overtime pay owed to ASG employees.

According to the governor, the administrative settlement requires ASG to pay back wages to the affected employees, to adjust current compensatory time calculation and to adopt a "Plan of Corrective Action" to correct policies and practices in ASG to avoid further FLSA violations.

The governor designated Human Resources Department director Le’i Sonny Thompson to implement the Plan, which includes amendments to the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC), Chapter 4, to bring this local code into full compliance with FLSA.

The executive order also directs that the policy be published in the form of a handout, or incorporated into an employee manual for distribution to all employees.

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