California Farm Labor Contractor Ordered to Pay $56,673 in Back Wages and Penalties
Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) December 18, 2019 – A Salinas-based agricultural company, Empire Farm Labor, was ordered to pay $38,260 in back wages to 79 employees and $18,413 in civil penalties after a Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found multiple violations under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). The incidents occurred between December 2018 and May 2019.
According to the suit, Empire Farm Labor violated H-2A by rejecting a qualified American worker who had applied for work, failing to pay for transportation of H-2A workers to and from their home countries to the United States for work, and confiscating the passports and visas of H-2A workers.
“The H-2A program is designed to both protect American jobs and keep temporary workers in the agricultural industry safe from exploitation,” said Betsey Havens, executive director at Los Angeles employment law firm Strong Advocates. “Both of these goals support a healthy American economy.”
Empire Farm Labor transported its workers from their home countries without the proper licenses. It also denied them necessary forms of ID when it took their visas and passports. Those are legally required to stay with their owners.
Responsibility to know the laws and requirements set forth by the WHD, including MSPA and the H-2A visa program, lies with the employer. There are resources available via the telephone helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or online at www.dol.gov/whd.