U.S. Department of Labor Obtains Preliminary Injunction to Prevent Agriculture Employer from Violating Obligations of H-2A Visa Program
Second Time in Department’s History That It Has Obtained Temporary Restraining Order Under the H-2A Visa Program
KENNET, MO – The U.S. Department of Labor announced that it has successfully obtained a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to enjoin defendant Marin J. Corp. from violating its obligations concerning its employment of H-2A temporary agriculture workers under the H-2A visa program. This is the second time in the Department's history that it has successfully obtained a preliminary injunction order under the H-2A visa program, with the previous instance occurring in May 2017.
The Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigators found that Marin J. Corp. violated the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program when it provided unsanitary and unsafe housing and working conditions to employees, including housing them in a former jail. Marin J. Corp also failed to pay the wages required by their work contracts.
"All H-2A laws must be complied with so Americans have the first opportunity to fill these jobs, and by not following the law an employer receives an unfair advantage," said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez, in Chicago. "This preliminary injunction reflects the U.S. Department of Labor's strong commitment to preventing violations of federal laws."
Tuesday, the court entered an agreed preliminary injunction requiring Marin J. Corp. to take specific steps to improve housing and work conditions, pay undisputed back wages, and maintain accurate payroll and time records. The Department had filed a complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction with the court on July 26, 2018. After filing the complaint, the Department entered into discussions with Marin J. Corp. to immediately address the violations at issue. Without admitting the specific allegations of the complaint, Marin J. Corp. consented to the entry of the agreed preliminary injunction.
There are very specific guidelines under the H-2A program that require employers to ensure workers have appropriate, clean and safe housing and working conditions, and that they are paid the wages they are legally due. The Department encourages all employers to make use of the many tools that are available to ensure that they understand their responsibilities, and how to avoid violations.
For more information about agricultural employment and other laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.