Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BROKEN BOW, Neb. -- Adams Land and Cattle Co., a major cattle research, development facility and feeding operation, has paid $127,615 to the U.S. Department of Labor for back wages owed to 68 agricultural workers employed at the company’s Broken Bow cattle feed lot after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division disclosed violations of H-2A temporary agricultural program standards. The company has also paid $101,600 in civil money penalties for violations under the H-2A program.
“Employers who choose to participate in the voluntary H-2A program must realize they are required to follow all of the labor standards of the program. When that same employer certifies that he cannot find enough U.S. workers to work in his business, he must also assume the responsibility of learning the specifics of this program,” said Michael Staebell, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Des Moines. “The department is committed to protecting the rights of all workers covered by the laws we enforce. This case demonstrates that we are using all tools available, including penalty assessments, to remedy violations, promote accountability and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers.”
Adams Land and Cattle Co. employed Mexican nationals under the H-2A program. The investigation found multiple violations of the H-2A program, including unlawful rejection of U.S. applicant workers, preferential treatment of H-2A workers, failing to reimburse transportation costs and not paying the required wage rate. The company also did not properly record hours worked, took illegal deductions from wages and failed to provide all workers a copy of their work contracts. Additionally, Adams Land and Cattle did not notify the department in writing of employment separation of H-2A workers. At this time, the company has ceased using H-2A workers at its facilities. As a result of the investigation 29 U.S. workers were paid H-2A back wages of $31,758.17, after it was determined they were paid less than the H-2A workers for corresponding job assignments.
The H-2A temporary agricultural program establishes a means for agricultural employers, who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers, to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
The program requires an employer to attest to the department that it will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of the following: the prevailing wage for the occupation and geographic area, applicable federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or local minimum wage. This wage will be paid to the H-2A workers and certain similarly employed U.S. workers during the entire period of the approved labor certification. The program also establishes recruitment and displacement standards to protect similarly employed U.S. workers.
For more information about the H-2A program, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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