Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
U.S. Department of Labor Revokes Georgia Farm Labor Contractor Certification After Investigation Finds MSPA Violations
ADEL, GA – The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has revoked the certificate of registration for H-2A farm labor contractor Jesus Contreras for violating requirements of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). Contreras provided 29 farmworkers to harvest and package mixed green vegetables at VPC Produce LLC/4 Way Farms LLC in Adel, Georgia.
As a result of the violations, the WHD has assessed Contreras $77,885 in civil money penalties and found that the employer owes $1,894 in back wages to 10 farmworkers.
Contreras violated MSPA requirements by failing to maintain payroll records, failing to register a driver as a farm labor contractor employee, and by housing farmworkers at a different address than he indicated on his farm labor certificate.
WHD investigators determined Contreras also violated H-2A requirements by failing to reimburse 10 farmworkers for expenses associated with their travel to the U.S., and failed to provide housing that met safety and health standards. Investigators found inoperable fire alarms, exposed wiring, and mold present in the employer-provided housing, among other infractions.
"Any employer seeking H-2A workers must be ready and willing to abide by all of the program's requirements, and must not attempt to shift any of the employer's costs onto the workers," said Wage and Hour District Director Eric Williams, in Atlanta. "To ensure a level playing field for employers who do comply, to protect American workers, and to protect guest workers, WHD will use all enforcement tools at our disposal, including the revocation of the farm labor certificate, for employers who fail to follow the rules."
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 of Labor stating that:
- An insufficient number of U.S. employees are able, willing, qualified, and available to work; and
- The employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.