Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Buena Vista, NJ, vegetable grower agrees to pay nearly $120,000 in back wages and damages following US Labor Department investigation
Department initiates ‘hot goods’ action to ensure
BUENA VISTA, N.J. -- The U.S. Department of Labor today secured a consent judgment in federal district court requiring Chi-Ngok Lui, owner of Evergreen Produce, to pay a total of $119,886 in back wages and liquidated damages to 18 workers following a Wage and Hour Division investigation that disclosed minimum wage and recordkeeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The 18 workers were engaged in farming Chinese vegetables for the company at farms operated in Buena Vista and in Hastings, Fla. In addition to not paying the workers the wages they were owed between May 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, Evergreen also is being cited for failing to maintain proper records of all hours worked.
“Agricultural employers have a legal responsibility to pay workers in accordance with the law, and the Labor Department is committed to using every means available to bring violators into compliance,” said Patrick Reilly, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Southern New Jersey District Office.
As a result of the violations, the department initiated an FLSA “hot goods” action. This action prohibits the shipment of products including agricultural commodities that are produced in violation of the law, including a failure to pay the minimum wage to workers.
Under the consent judgment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Lui will pay $101,397 in back wages and 18,489 in liquidated damages for the hot goods violation. The order also obliges Lui to comply with FLSA minimum wage and recordkeeping provisions in the future wherever he does business.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records
For information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or contact the division’s district office in Southern New Jersey at 609-538-8310. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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