Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Edison, NJ, nursery agrees to pay nearly $64,000 in unpaid wages and penalties after US Department of Labor investigation
Barton Nursery Inc. underpaid H-2A visa workers
EDISON, N.J. -- Plant, tree and shrub firm Barton Nursery Inc. has signed a consent judgment agreeing to pay $27,056 in back wages to 12 nonimmigrant foreign workers hired under the H-2A visa program of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Investigators from the Wage and Hour Divisionís Southern New Jersey District Office found the Edison-based company failed to pay workers the proper wages and failed to retain adequate and accurate records for three years. The business will pay $36,615 in civil monetary penalties because of the H-2A violations.
ďAll employers must honor their legal obligations, not only to domestic workers, but also to workers coming into the U.S. under the H-2A visa program,Ē said Charlene L. Rachor, director of the Wage and Hour Divisionís Southern New Jersey District Office. ďMigrant and seasonal U.S. farmworkers and temporary nonimmigrant farmworkers are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged employees. This investigation, and the resulting back wages and penalties, underscore the departmentís commitment to using all enforcement tools to protect the rights of employees and to prevent employers in violation of the law from gaining an unfair competitive advantage.Ē
Under the judgment filed with the departmentís Office of Administrative Law Judges, in addition to paying the back wages and penalties, Barton Nursery will be closely monitored at its own expense to ensure compliance with H-2A regulations for three years. The company, which has paid all back wages due, agreed that it will be automatically debarred from participation in the H-2A foreign worker recruitment program for one year if the division uncovers additional violations of the H-2A regulations over the next four years.
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 Divisionís toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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