Am. Samoa Telecom Underpaid Employees’ Overtime

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US Dept. Of Labor to assist government understand the law

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 10, 2014) – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that the government owned American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority failed to pay overtime wages to more than 30 employees.

USDOL says in a news release late Thursday afternoon that ASTCA owes $26,836 in overtime to 36 workers at the Tafuna branch and other remote offices. The back wages covered a two-year period beginning Feb. 7, 2012.

ASTCA also failed to pay 62 workers for an additional 10,031 overtime hours. These hours will be added to the employees' comp-time leave accounts for their future use, says USDOL.

WHD district director in Hawai’i, Terence Trotter says the federal agency will continue to work with representatives from the American Samoa government to "improve their understanding of federal labor laws while addressing any deficiencies in the manner in which overtime is accrued and paid."

Samoa News asked ASTCA board chairman Roy J.D. Hall Jr. about what efforts have been made by ASTCA management and board to ensure that federal labor laws dealing with overtime is followed.

"Last year we had voluntarily looked into the overtime and other personnel issues that existed before and after the [current] Board was appointed," Hall replied Thursday night. "We anticipated that with the [US]DOL opening an office in American Samoa, that we would have to address the employee issues raised in Mr. Trotter's statement and we are cooperating with DOL on all fronts to ensure that ASTCA complies with DOL applicable federal law."

He also says that he has not seen the USDOL investigation report and its findings, but if they are correct, "we will do what is right for each employee impacted with non-payment of overtime pay that is due the employee."

"ASTCA as any other employer will ensure that any changes that must be made to comply with employee overtime compensation will be put in place and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure compliance," Hall said.

A USDOL report in February this year states in part that ASG is working with WHD investigators "to identify additional back wages owed for potential non-compliant policies in its semi-autonomous agencies" such as the community college, public library, hospital and telecommunications center.

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