U.S. Department of Labor investigation finds hiring and pay violatios at North Florida cabbage farm
HASTINGS, FL – A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found that Sauceda Contractor Inc., an H-2A farm labor contractor, violated the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) when it provided farmworkers to harvest cabbage at Barnes Farm in Hastings. As a result, the company has paid $19,847 in back wages to 53 employees, and WHD assessed the employer $5,526 in H-2A and MSPA civil money penalties.
WHD investigators determined the company failed to provide the number of meals for which it charged workers, failed to reimburse H-2A workers for their transportation expenses from their home countries, failed to reimburse workers for their visa fees, and failed to meet the housing safety and health requirements. Additionally, Sauceda Contractor Inc. transported migrant workers while using an expired MSPA farm labor contractor's certification, failing to file a renewal application, as required.
Investigators also determined that Sauceda Contractor Inc. violated H-2A recruitment requirements when it included a requirement to lift 60 pounds in the newspaper advertisement seeking American workers but did not apply that same requirement to the H-2A workers. Additionally, Sauceda Contractor Inc. advertised in Alabama and Georgia newspapers when the positions were in Florida.
"Any employer seeking H-2A workers must be ready and willing to abide by all of the program's requirements, and must not attempt to shift any of the employer's costs onto the workers," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel White, in Jacksonville. "This case demonstrates our commitment to protect vulnerable workers from being paid less than they are legally owed or otherwise working under substandard conditions, and to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers."
For more information about the MSPA, H-2A and other laws enforced by the Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.