Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into an agreed order with Dowagiac-based Berrybrook Enterprises and owners Joseph Hassle Sr. and Scott Hassle to improve conditions at their migrant agricultural worker housing facilities known as Hull Camp, Northrup Camp, Spudco Camp and Steinke Camp, all located in Cass County.
The agreed order resolves a petition for civil contempt filed by the department in August 2012 after a July 2011 investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined the company and Hassle Sr., one of its owners, were in violation of a June 2010 consent judgment for failing to comply with the applicable housing safety and health requirements under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. The 2010 consent judgment ordered that Berrybrook and its owners not house or permit the housing of migrant agricultural workers in housing that does not meet the applicable state and federal safety and health standards, in violation of the MSPA.
“Our investigation found a lack of sanitary facilities for storing and preparing food, an inadequate supply of hot and cold running water for bathing and laundry and infestation by rodents and insects,” said Karen Chaikin, regional administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest. “This agreement will bring Berrybrook Farms’ camps up to the standards for migrant worker housing established by law. It will help improve the quality of life for the workers and their families.”
Berrybrook, an 11,600 acre fruit and vegetable farm, will institute a number of enhanced compliance procedures to resolve the petition for civil contempt. The company has agreed to a three-year housing construction schedule for three of its camps if it elects to replace any of the housing units deemed unfit for occupancy by the department. The company will also conduct weekly inspections of all its housing units for two years; maintain a log of repairs for two years; and post a number of notices in Spanish and English that alert migrant agricultural workers to their right to safe and sanitary housing.
Berrybrook also agrees to provide training on migrant housing standards to its farm labor contractors and to pay $9,700 in civil money penalties and fines to reimburse the secretary of labor for expenses incurred in the investigation. The order will remain in effect for five years.
The Wage and Hour Division enforces the MSPA, which provides protections for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by establishing employment standards related to wages, housing, transportation, disclosures and record keeping.
For more information about the MSPA and the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE.
Solis v. Berrybrook Enterprises, Joseph Hassle Sr., Case 1:12-cv-887.
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