The V.I. Department of Labor will impose as much as $9 million in fines and back pay against Hovensa subcontractor Triangle Construction and Maintenance for allegedly not giving 90 days notice before laying off 67 of its employees, Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr. announced Friday.
The Labor Department is imposing a fine of $2,500 for each of the 67 employees and Bryan said in a statement the fine will make Triangle responsible for 90 days pay for each employee as a violation of the V.I. Plant Closing Act.
According to Labor, recent changes to the VIPCA by the Legislature have caused a lot of confusion in the application of the law. Meetings between Labor and Triangle Construction to find an amicable solution have been ongoing from late last year but have come to an impasse and the matter has escalated to its current status, according to Labor.
“Essentially this is an issue of fairness in the application of the law," Bryan said. "Tenured employees with over 20 and 30 years of service to Triangle are being displaced with little or no compensation as guaranteed them by the VIPCA. Even though some are being offered other positions in the refinery under an alternate company, they have lost seniority, vacation pay and other benefits. To add insult to injury if they are rehired by the new company, they will be hired as probationary employees. That’s not equitable and it certainly isn’t fair,” Bryan said.
The Department of Labor’s Rapid Response Team has been providing workshops for all employees in the Territory who have been affected by mass layoffs or plant closings. Any affected employee who has not received these services should contact the Department of Labor at 773-1440.