Florida Farm Labor Contractor Pays $53,428 in Back Wages After Failing to Meet Requirements of U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A Visa Program
MT. DORA, FL – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), SOL Harvesting LLC – a Haines City, Florida, farm labor contractor – has paid $53,428 in back wages for violating labor provisions of the H-2A visa program.
WHD investigators determined SOL Harvesting LLC – owned by Roberto Carlos Cendejas Perez – failed to provide employees copies of their work contracts and failed to reimburse them for inbound travel expenses from their home countries as required by law. In addition, the company failed to reimburse the employees for their visa and border fees within their first workweek. SOL Harvesting LLC also failed to provide required transportation and housing that met minimum safety and health standards. In addition to the back wages found due, WHD assessed a civil money penalty of $2,368 for the violations.
"Any employer seeking H-2A workers must be ready and willing to abide by all 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 Daniel White, in Jacksonville. "The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and ensure that workers are paid the wages that they legally earned. 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."
SOL Harvesting LLC provided 99 farmworkers to harvest cucumbers, cabbage, kale, and onions at Scott's Farms in Mt. Dora, Florida, and used the services of H-2A agent Theresa Ward of National Agricultural Consultants LLC.
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 U.S. 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.