News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Finds Florida Agricultural Employer In Violation of Guest Worker Visa Program Requirements

OKEECHOBEE, FL – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Coco Sod Farms Inc. – an agricultural employer based in Okeechobee, Florida – has paid a $10,930 civil penalty for violating requirements of the H-2A visa program.

WHD investigators determined the employer housed its H-2A workers at a location different than they listed on the job order they used to secure the workers. The employer actually housed workers in a property that had not had a proper inspection. The employer used that property to lodge 14 employees in a 900-square-foot trailer, failing to meet the minimum requirement of 100 square feet per person. WHD also found the employer failed to make a person certified in first aid available to the camp, and failed to furnish a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher. Coco Sod Farms Inc. also failed to display a poster to notify employees of their rights under the law.

“Agricultural employers that bring in temporary guest workers on H-2A visas are responsible for complying with all the program’s provisions,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Tony Pham, in Miami, Florida. “We will continue to safeguard American jobs and hold employers that violate the law accountable. We offer a wealth of compliance information readily available to assist employers and farm labor contractors in understanding their obligations under the law. ”

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 H-2A visa program and other laws enforced by the Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by 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.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
December 16, 2019
Release Number
19-2075-ATL
Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Contact: Michael D'Aquino
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