The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) recently determined that Flo-Ag LLC, an agricultural labor contracting company in Labelle, Florida, violated the rules of the H-2A program and the Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA). As a result of the federal investigation, Flo-Ag cannot participate in the H-2A program for two years and must pay $45,212 in back wages to 113 employees and a civil penalty of $17,939. The company recruited H-2A workers to work in farms in Trenton, Florida and Rochelle, Georgia to harvest cranberries, watermelon, peppers and cucumbers. Read the DOL report here.
Flo-Ag violated the H-2A rules in several ways. They provided unauthorized housing with poor health and safety conditions for their workers. In addition, they did not reimburse the workers for their expenses from their travel to Florida from their home countries. Lastly, Flo-Ag paid their U.S. workers less than their H-2A workers for the same work and did not give the workers their pay stubs.
This investigation emphasizes the importance of H-2A workers speaking out against violations of workers’ rights. In cases of proven violations, the DOL can ensure compliance with the law and obtain payments for workers’ stolen wages.
To make a complaint with the DOL about wages or poor living conditions, you can call 866-487-9243. El Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) also has free phone lines to answer your questions about your rights as a worker in temporary work programs. You can call CDM free of charge at 1-855-234-9699 from the U.S. or at 1-800-590-1773 from Mexico.