RALEIGH, NC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has debarred the Lake Placid, Florida, company Vasquez Citrus & Hauling Inc. and Juan Vasquez, an H-2A farm labor contractor, from applying for H-2A certification for a period of three years for violations of the program’s provisions. WHD also issued the company a civil money penalty of $15,153.
WHD investigators found Vasquez Citrus & Hauling Inc., working for Ham Farms in Snow Hill, North Carolina, failed to reimburse employees for their inbound travel expenses as required by law. Additionally, Vasquez failed to provide adequate payroll or time records to the investigators.
“The resolution of this case reflects the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to strictly enforce our nation’s immigration rules that protect U.S. workers and the guest workers who participate in our visa programs,” said Richard Blaylock, Wage and Hour Division District Director in Raleigh. “The Department of Labor offers a great deal of compliance assistance in the agricultural industry, and we encourage all employers to make use of the many tools we provide to help them understand and comply with the law, and to call us for assistance.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the H-2A program, which allows the lawful admission into the U.S. of temporary, nonimmigrant workers to perform agricultural labor or services. WHD enforces the labor provisions of this program.
Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve an employer’s petition for H-2A visa workers, the employer must file an application with the Department stating that an insufficient number of U.S. employees are able, willing, qualified, and available to work; and that the employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Federal law provides for numerous employee protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working conditions that do not apply to non-agricultural programs.
Editor’s Note: This news release was changed to correct the name of the state where the farm labor contractor is located.