Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
Florida Agriculture Employer Pays Wages and Damages After U.S. Department of Labor Uncovers Wage Violations
MOUNT DORA, FL - After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), AG Labor LLC – based in Plant City, Florida – has paid $16,332 in back wages and damages to 44 employees for violating requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the H-2A visa program. The employer also paid $2,082 in civil money penalties for the H-2A violations.
WHD investigators found AG Labor LLC – owned by Julio Cruz – violated the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program by failing to meet safety and health requirements for housing guest workers. The agricultural employer also failed to satisfy program requirements when it failed to list all of the job sites where employees would perform work when it submitted its request for workers. AG Labor also failed to pay some employees required wages for compensable time they spent traveling to and from work sites.
WHD found that AG Labor LLC employees were ineligible for an agricultural exemption the employer claimed from overtime requirements, and that it consequently failed to pay employees time-and-one-half for hours they worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The investigation determined the employees working in the employer's packinghouse co-mingled produce grown by other farmers. The agricultural exemption from the FLSA's overtime requirements applies to employees involved in processing or packaging products grown only by that employer. Once employees packed goods brought in from other suppliers, the exemption did not apply, and they were due overtime.
"The Wage and Hour Division works to ensure agricultural workers receive the wages they have legally earned," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel White, in Jacksonville, Florida. "We staff offices throughout the country to assist employers and to help them understand their obligations and responsibilities under federal laws. We encourage all employers to take advantage of these free resources and avoid costly penalties."
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
For more information about the FLSA, the H-2A visa program, and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, 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.
WHD's mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.