Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
High violation rate on FLSA, H-2A, MSPA prompt multi-year enforcement initiative by US Labor Department in Oklahoma agriculture industry
Type of Action: Launch of a multi-year agriculture education and enforcement initiative.
Findings: Agriculture plays a significant role in Oklahoma's economy, with nearly 80,000 farms contributing to the state's production and providing jobs for thousands of workers. Farmworkers play an essential role in producing our nation's food supply, but are among the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers. Many are not familiar with the protections to which most agricultural workers are entitled such as receiving legally required wages, safe transportation and housing and field sanitation facilities.
Between 2011 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Oklahoma found the majority of the agriculture industry investigations they conducted had monetary violations with back wages collected or civil money penalties assessed. In order to improve compliance with agricultural statutes, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program, and the field sanitation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the division will launch a multi-year educational and enforcement initiative. During 2015, the agency is reaching out to growers by providing education and technical assistance in order to increase awareness and, in turn, compliance. Initial enforcement efforts will focus on watermelon growers, as this is a labor intensive crop.
Quote: "The department hopes to reduce the number of violations by educating and providing assistance to employers and workers out in the field," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the division in the Southwest. "No employee who works so hard for their wages should be denied their basic rights under the law."
Information: For more information about federal wage laws, or for information about attending any of the trainings to be held, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Oklahoma District Office at405-231-4158. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/ag//ag.