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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 13-741-CHI

Date: 

May 7, 2013

Contact: 

Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke

Phone: 

(312) 353-6976

US Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division focuses on enforcing labor law compliance in agricultural industry in Illinois and Missouri

ST. LOUIS -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is launching an initiative focusing on hand-harvested crops in Illinois and Missouri. The intent is to protect agricultural workers against violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, H-2A Visa Program, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Field Sanitation Standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The initiative will focus on growers, farm labor contractors, agricultural brokers and processors to affect industry-wide compliance through enforcement and education.

Previous initiatives disclosed a number of compliance issues. Past violations found include failing to properly disclose terms and conditions of employment; failure to pay all wages owed when due; inadequate housing and unsafe transportation; lack of potable drinking water and unsanitary field sanitation facilities; H-2A Visa Program violations; and misclassification of employees as independent contractors, as well as child labor violations.

Between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012, the division’s St. Louis District Office conducted 98 investigations in the agricultural industry, resulting in more than $100,000 in back wages for 228 employees. These investigations also resulted in the assessment of more than $80,000 in civil money penalties.

“This initiative demonstrates our commitment to protecting agricultural workers who work long hours under difficult conditions,” said Norma Cervi, the division’s district director in St. Louis. “The Wage and Hour Division takes seriously compliance with respect to farm workers’ health and safety, wages and working conditions. Our hope is to educate the industry and to vigorously pursue corrective action if violations are disclosed.”

The division will be working with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project and the Missouri Workforce Office to share information and conduct educational outreach.

The division enforces the MSPA, which protects migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by mandating that covered employers properly disclose the terms and conditions of employment, that employers pay all wages owed when due, that all housing provided to migrant workers meet the applicable standards and that transportation provided to covered workers is safe. The division also enforces the FLSA, which requires covered employers to pay nonexempt farmworkers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked as well as the H-2A visa program for non-U.S. citizens. For more information about the MSPA, FLSA, and H-2A Visa Program, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE.

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