\Still an open investigation\ says USDOL of ASG overtime pay probe
The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) says it still has an open investigation into non payment of overtime for American Samoa Government workers and therefore could not provide additional details about any settlement information including the total number of affected employees.
Gov. Togiola Tulafono last week sent to the Fono a proposed appropriation bill which seeks $916,093 to pay for the overtime hours of ASG employees, who were found by USDOL investigation to be owed payment for overtime hours they accrued during fiscal years 2010 and 2011 under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Responding to Samoa News questions from last Friday, USDOL spokesman Jose A. Carnevali, who is based in San Francisco, said “this is still an open investigation” on the territorial government.
“...and as such, what we can only tell you at this moment is that USDOL Wage Hour Division is working cooperatively with the American Samoa Government to bring this matter to a conclusion,” he said via email yesterday.
There is no indication at this point as to when the investigation will close, or how many employees are affected, but the Department of Public Safety has the largest allocation for payment: $839,667.
Funding for the proposed legislation, which is not expected to be introduced in the current session — which closes tomorrow — comes from an increase in excise tax for beer, alcohol, and tobacco and a hike in business license fees.
During a special meeting of senators yesterday, Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli said he is surprised with the new proposal by the administration, as reported by the media, coming just days before the current session ends. He said the governor is pushing this issue to the Fono, who’s not at fault for the problems discovered by the federal government’s investigation.
He said the administration now wants to impose taxes and fees on the public in order to pay for a mistake of the local government and this matter of overtime should have been resolved a long time ago.