Federal Ruling Issued Against Kentucky Tobacco Farmer after U.S. Department of Labor Finds Wage and Visa Program Violations
LEBANON, KY – The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) has issued a decision against James L. Brady Sr. – a tobacco farmer based in Lebanon, Kentucky – after an investigation by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found he violated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), and the H-2A visa program.
WHD investigators found that Brady violated the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program when he paid a lower hourly rate to U.S. employees than he did to H-2A workers performing the same type of work. He also failed to reimburse H-2A workers for travel expenses to and from their home countries, and failed to provide them housing at no cost, as the law requires. In addition, Brady failed to provide H-2A employees with at least three-quarters of the work hours that were guaranteed on their work contracts. WHD also found the employer failed to pay the employees as frequently as required, and paid less than required wages. Brady also failed to keep records and to provide employees with pay statements as required.
In addition, WHD determined Brady failed to meet safety and health requirements for the housing of H-2A employees. The Court ordered Brady to pay $91,778 in back wages to 43 employees and increased the civil money penalty previously assessed by the Department to $115,200 for the violations.
"This decision serves as an example to all growers using the H-2A program that a grave and egregious failure to adhere to all provisions of federal labor law will not be tolerated," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett, in Louisville, Kentucky. "Our work continues to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and ensure that workers are paid the wages they have legally earned."
For more information about the FLSA, MSPA, H-2A, and other laws enforced by WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.