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News Release

Produce farm’s intimidation effort fails to stop investigation that recovers $250K in back wages for 89 workers

Investigation finds violations of visa requirements for temporary foreign workers

COLUMBUS, Neb. – While some in charge at Daniels Produce LLC kept workers away from U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators, others gathered the farm laborers and instructed them to tell federal authorities the company never paid them less than legally required wages. If the workers did not lie during their interviews, their employer threatened to send them home to Mexico and Guatemala and not invite them back to work in future growing seasons.

Despite their attempt to intimidate the workers and impede an investigation, the company will pay 89 Mexican and Guatemalan guest workers $250,000 in back wages for work at the Columbus produce farm. Daniels Produce will also pay $20,000 in civil penalties for violating provisions of the H-2A temporary worker visa program, which allows employers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. for agricultural labor.

“Daniels Produce clearly intimidated these workers and violated the provisions of the visa program. Employers that attempt to circumvent the law gain an unfair advantage over their competitors,” said Karen Chaikin, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in Chicago. “We are glad that these workers are getting the wages they worked so hard to earn, and that our enforcement tools can protect not only workers’ rights, but also level the playing field for growers who play by the rules.”

Investigators found Daniels Produce violated the H-2A visa provisions by:

  • Falsifying records to indicate they paid the legally required minimum wage for workers under the visa program.
  • Giving preferential treatment to H-2A workers,  paying them more than others, including U.S. citizens, employed in similar jobs.
  • ­Failing to reimburse H-2A workers for the cost of their inbound/outbound transportation and subsistence expenses.
  • Failing to provide complete earning records to employees.
  • Failing to properly insure vehicles used to transport workers.

The company employed the workers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons to pick and pack produce grown in its 500-acre fields near Columbus.

Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve an employer’s petition for H-2A visa workers, an employer must file an application with the department stating that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available, and that the employment of nonimmigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The law provides for numerous worker protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working conditions that do not apply to nonagricultural programs.

For fiscal year 2015, the department has processed more than 6,700 H-2A applications.

Visit or call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.

Wage and Hour Division
August 22, 2016
Release Number
Media Contact: Scott Allen
Phone Number
Media Contact: Rhonda Burke
Phone Number