U.S. Department of Labor Debars North Carolina Farm Labor Contractor for H-2A Violations, and Assesses $17,309 Penalty
DUNN, NC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has debarred Worldwide Staffing LLC from applying for H-2A certifications for three years following violations of the visa program’s requirements and a failure to pay back wages owed to employees. The company failed to reimburse employees for their inbound travel expenses from their home countries, as the law requires, and owed $58,458 in back wages to 200 employees. WHD assessed the staffing company a civil penalty of $17,309 because of the violations.
Investigators found Worldwide Staffing - a Dunn-based farm labor contractor - failed to provide employees with adequate cooking facilities to allow them to prepare their meals. Under the H-2A program, employers must either provide cooking facilities to workers free of charge, or provide them three meals per day, for which they may charge. WHD investigators found that Worldwide Staffing provided only two meals per day, and charged workers more for these meals than allowed by law.
“This case demonstrates the Department’s commitment to strictly enforce rules that protect both U.S. workers and the guest workers who participate in these programs,” said Richard Blaylock, Wage and Hour Division District Director in Raleigh. “We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division by phone, online, or to attend any of our outreach events for assistance and to learn more about their responsibilities.”
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 U.S. employees who are able, willing, qualified, and available. The employer must also state that the employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed persons in the U.S. The law provides numerous employee protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working conditions that do not apply to non-agricultural programs.