DAWSON, Pa. – A Southwestern Pennsylvania farm and landscaping company has paid nearly $22,000 in back wages and penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor found the operator failed to recruit and hire U.S. workers before hiring workers under the H-2A visa program, in violation of section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found Dawson-based Christner Farms LLC illegally denied one qualified U.S. worker the opportunity to work on the farm, resulting in the back wages due.
“The H-2A visa program provides protections against employers hiring foreign workers over qualified U.S. workers,” said John DuMont, director of the division’s district office in Pittsburgh. “We will continue to make every effort to ensure that U.S. workers are not unfairly denied jobs.”
The division also found that Christner failed to cooperate with the state’s workforce agency by not accepting referrals of all eligible U.S. workers who applied for the job opportunity. The company also failed to provide housing for agricultural workers that met required housing safety and health standards, and post required information about the temporary agricultural employment of foreign workers.
Christner has paid $11,275 in back wages and $10,463 in civil money penalties to resolve the matter.
The division is committed to providing companies with the tools they need to understand and comply with the variety of labor laws the division enforces. It offers useful resources ranging from an interactive Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses advisor to a complete library of free, downloadable workplace posters. In addition, Community Outreach and Resource Planning specialists conduct ongoing activities to educate stakeholders, including employers, employees, business and labor groups and professional associations with accessible, easy-to-understand information about their rights and responsibilities.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.