U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Farm Labor Contractor Paying $168,082 in Penalties to Resolve Housing Condition Violations
SOLEDAD, CA – Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Future Ag Management Inc. – a Soledad, California-based farm labor contractor – will pay $168,082 in penalties to resolve Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) violations that posed a direct and imminent threat to its employees.
WHD investigators found Future Ag Management Inc. provided housing with illegal and substandard conditions to agricultural workers during lettuce and cauliflower harvests in Monterey County during the summer of 2017. The contractor housed 22 employees illegally in facilities that failed to offer the minimum square footage required per person. The employer also provided only one shower and sink to the 22 employees, fewer than required by law. Restroom facilities were found to be unsanitary and infested with insects. In addition to the dangerous overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, local health authorities also determined that the water provided to the workers by the employer for washing and drinking was unsafe for human consumption.
Upon discovery, the workers were immediately placed in hotels until adequate housing could be secured for the remainder of the harvest season.
“The living conditions we found in this investigation can only be described as inhumane,” said Susana Blanco, Wage and Hour Division District Director in San Francisco. “The Department of Labor remains committed to ensuring the wages and welfare of agricultural workers through our enforcement efforts, and through our ongoing educational efforts for employers in this industry.”
MSPA protects migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by establishing employment standards related to wages, housing, transportation, disclosures, and recordkeeping. For general information on MSPA, please see the Employment Law Guide or the Wage and Hour Division’s MSPA fact sheet.
To operate legally as farm labor contractors, individuals and companies must register with the U.S. Department of Labor. Farm labor contractors that intend to house, transport, or drive a migrant or seasonal agricultural worker must meet special requirements. Application materials and instructions can be found online at https://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/fts_wh530.htm
Employees and employers with questions about MSPA or any of the federal laws administered by the Division should call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). All calls are confidential. More information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.