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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. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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