U.S. Sues to Get Salt Lake City Airport Back Pay

The U.S. Labor Department has filed a lawsuit against a company that previously handled security at Salt Lake City International Airport, claiming it owes $435,564 in back wages to 1,259 of its former Utah employees.

In all, the lawsuit filed March 14 with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges seeks more than $7.1 million in back wages for 7,171 employees of Huntleigh USA Corp. Those employees worked in Salt Lake City and at 38 other U.S. airports.

"We don't believe the company paid those workers the proper wages and benefits that were called for under its contract with the federal government," said Dean Campbell, district director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Salt Lake City office, which launched the investigation more than a year ago.

The St. Louis, Mo.-based Huntleigh was hired by the federal government to provide airport security services after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And it continued to provide those services until the end of the following year, when the Transportation Security Administration took over the responsibility using federal employees.

Huntleigh, which since 1999 has operated as a subsidiary of Netherlands-based ICTS International, could not be reached for comment.

"It is appalling that thousands of Americans who answered the call to become airport security personnel in the aftermath of the devastating attacks on 9/11 were not paid all the wages they were due," Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit. "We will aggressively pursue justice in this case."

Campbell said under the federal Service Contract Act, which governs companies awarded government service contracts valued in excess of $2,500, contractors must pay their workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the local communities where the employees are located. The Labor Department determines the required Service Contract Act wage rates and benefits for each occupation.

Anyone with questions about the status of the investigation may call the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Salt Lake City at 524-5706, extension 202.

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