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Judge orders New Jersey nursery to pay $143K in back wages, penalties after US Labor Department’s wage and hour investigation
Date of action: Feb. 18, 2016
Type of action: Order granting Wage and Hour Division’s motion for summary decision
Names of defendant: Overdevest Nurseries LP, wholesale grower of plants, shrubs, trees and flower
Allegations: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Overdevest Nurseries hired approximately 55 foreign workers under the H-2A visa program to perform seasonal agricultural work during the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons. Investigators determined that the Bridgeton, New Jersey, employer paid its domestic production workers less than the rate paid to the H-2A workers during that time, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
After the investigation, the company requested a hearing, which led to both the department and the defendant filing motions for summary decision to resolve the case.
Resolution: An administrative law judge has granted a summary decision in favor of the division ordering Overdevest to pay $92,984 in back wages to 69 U.S. workers, and an additional $50,400 in civil money penalties for the violations.
“When an employer participates in the H-2A program, U.S. workers must not suffer as a result,” said Charlene Rachor, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Southern New Jersey District Office. “Our investigation of Overdevest Nurseries, and the resulting judgment, demonstrates our commitment to hold employers accountable, to protect the rights of vulnerable farm workers, and to level the playing field for all the employers who play by the rules and do right by their workers.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the lawful admission of temporary, nonimmigrant workers (H-2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. The department’s regulations governing the H-2A Program also apply to the employment of U.S. workers by an employer of H-2A workers in any work included in the ETA-approved job order or in any agricultural work performed by the H-2A workers during the period of the job order. Such U.S. workers are engaged in corresponding employment.
Court: U.S. Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges
Case No: 2015-TAE-00008