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Lawsuit: Afghanistan subcontractor cheated workers

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Federal investigators are examining whether a military subcontractor underpaid scores of medical workers in Afghanistan, pocketing federal funds that the government intended the company use to pay its employees.

A lawsuit brought in Indiana last week by Laura Hawkins of Bloomington claims Onsite Occupational Health and Safety Inc. underpaid her for the 84-hour weeks she routinely worked. Twenty other former employees have since joined the lawsuit, which has been moved to federal court. The complaint seeks class action status.

OHS, which is based in Princeton, Indiana, denies the allegations, which could involve more than $7 million in dispute. It says Hawkins was paid appropriately and the claims have no basis.

Alex Bronstein-Moffly, a spokesman for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told The Associated Press an investigation is being conducted but declined to elaborate.

The complaint claims that OHS cheated its employees and the government by keeping money that should have been paid out for overtime.

OHS, a subcontractor for another company that is a primary contractor for the Army, provides medical services to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Hawkins, a radiologic technician, worked for OHS at a site in Afghanistan.

The lawsuit claims Hawkins and other OHS employees were routinely required to work 84 hours a week or more without being paid at an overtime rate for work over 40 hours. The complaint maintains that OHS was obligated under terms of its contracts with the government and its primary contractor to pay overtime. The lawsuit says OHS refused to release those documents, but that the company is required to abide by federal and Indiana wage laws.

"By retaining monies which the U.S. government intended for payment of wages to OHS employees, OHS is unjustly and wrongfully enriching itself," the lawsuit says.

Hawkins' complaint does not specify an amount of damages. But in an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, OHS Director of Human Capital Jeff Devine calculated the total overtime allegedly due to the company's 237 employees who would be covered if the complaint is found valid at more than $7 million.

"Onsite believes she was paid properly and that it has not violated the law with regard to Ms. Hawkins or anyone else," Devine said in an email to The Associated Press. In another email, Devine also called the claims "unfounded."

It isn't the first time such claims have surfaced in Afghanistan, though officials say OHS hasn't been investigated before. The Special Inspector General's office alerted Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials to claims of financial mistreatment of subcontractors and employees in June 2013.

The Special Inspector General's office is currently reviewing 23 active complaints involving nonpayment to subcontractors and employees, spokesman Philip J. LaVelle told the AP on Wednesday. LaVelle said the office receives about eight to 10 such complaints each month.

Since December 2013, about $472,000 in contested payments has been made to subcontractors and employees following inquiries by the office, LaVelle said.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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