On Wednesday, A North Carolina farm labor contractor reached an approximately $20,000 settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor regarding H-2A temporary workers they had employed to harvest and package melons according to a press release.
The settlement comes as a result of claims that the defendant made the workers do “jobs not listed in its application to hire foreign guest workers, failed to provide required kitchen facilities or meals, paid insufficient wages and housed workers in overcrowded living quarters” according to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Specifically, the defendant asked workers to supervise, cook, and drive buses despite being hired as farmworkers. Furthermore, they made workers purchase their own lunches, failed to pay workers the promised $11.66 per hour, failed to keep accurate records of work hours, and housed workers in overcrowded housing facilities.
Wage and Hour Division District Director Jim Cain said in a statement, “farmworkers are among the nation’s most essential workers and unfortunately some of the most vulnerable to unfair and unsafe labor practices. … This investigation underscores the department’s commitment to using any and all enforcement strategies at our disposal to protect the rights of these employees, and to level the playing field for employers who obey the law. Other employers should use the outcome of this investigation as an opportunity to review their own practices to make sure they comply with the law, and avoid violations like those found in this case.”
The parties waived all further procedural steps before the Administrative Law Judge, and any right to contest the validity of the Consent Findings or any order through the settlement.