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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. This is easily remedied, and in a fashion that every church sacrificing incense for its 501c3 status and/or graveling for government grants should have no problem with ..... just add this statue, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capitoline_she-wolf_Musei_Capitolini_MC1181.jpg entitled, "Jesus and Cousin John learn to suckle sustenance from the beloved Nanny State." Heckfire, the ACLU might even help move the statue in place then. And the art will certainly reflect our modern life, given the clergy's full-bellied willingness to accede to every whim of the new caesars. If any balk, just threaten to take away their government milk … they will quiet down straightaway, I assure you. Few, if any of them, are willing to cross the ruling elite as did the real J&J

  2. Tina has left the building.

  3. Is JLAP and its bevy of social "scientists" the cure to every ailment of the modern practitioner? I see no allegations as to substance abuse, but I sure see a judge who has seemingly let power go to her head and who lacks any appreciation for the rule of law. Seems that she needs help in her legal philosophy and judicial restraint, not some group encounter session to affirm she is OK, we are OK. Can’t we lawyers just engage in peer professionalism and even peer pressure anymore? Need we social workers to tell us it is wrong to violate due process? And if we conduct ourselves with the basic respect for the law shown by most social workers .... it that good enough in Indiana? If not, then how is JLAP to help this 2003 law school grad get what her law school evidently failed to teach her? (In addition .... rhetorical question … I have a theory that the LAP model serves as a conduit for governmental grace when the same strict application of the law visited upon the poor and the powerless just will not do. See in the records of this paper ... can the argument be made that many who save their licenses, reputations, salaries by calling upon that font of grace are receiving special treatment? Who tracks the application of said grace to assure that EP and DP standards are fully realized? Does the higher one climbs inside the Beltway bring greater showers of grace? Should such grace be the providence of the government, or the churches and NGO's? Why, we would not want to be found mixing the remnants of our abandoned faith with the highest loyalty to the secularist state, now would we?)

  4. Is JLAP and its bevy of social "scientists" the cure to every ailment of the modern practitioner? I see no allegations as to substance abuse, but I sure see a judge who has seemingly let power go to her head and who lacks any appreciation for the rule of law. Seems that she needs help in her legal philosophy and judicial restraint, not some group encounter session to affirm she is OK, we are OK. Cannot we lawyers not engage in peer professionalism and even pressure anymore? Need we social workers to tell us it is wrong to violate due process? And if we conduct ourselves with the basis respect for the law shown by most social workers .... it that good enough in Indiana?

  5. Judge Baker nails it: "Russell was in a place he did not have a right to be, to take an action he did not have a right to take. Russell neglected to leave that property even after engaging in a heated argument with and being struck with a broom handle by the property owner." AS is noted below ... sad to think that the next shoe to drop will be the thief suing the car owner. That is justice?

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