Federal court orders Louisiana farm, owners to stop retaliation after operator denied workers’ request for water, screamed obscenities, fired shots
ROSEDALE, LA – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained two agreed preliminary injunctions in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge to prevent a Rosedale farm, its owner and anyone acting on their behalf, from intimidating, threatening, restraining, coercing, black listing, discharging or in any manner discriminating against any person who has engaged in any protected activity.
The agreed injunctions are the latest action taken against Rivet and Sons LLC and Glynn Rivet in an ongoing investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. Preliminary findings revealed that the employer denied H-2A workers adequate water while working in the fields and that Glynn Rivet retaliated against workers for asking his son to bring them water. The retaliation included Rivet screaming obscenities and pointing handguns at the workers, and firing shots. Glynn transferred ownership of Rivet and Sons to his sons following the June 8 incident.
On Sept. 22, the department filed a complaint alleging retaliation and a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Glynn Rivet and the company. The order sought to protect the workers from Glynn Rivet and to ensure that the company complied with Occupational Safety and Health Administration field sanitation standards, including ensuring that the workers were provided with adequate water, hand washing facilities and access to toilet facilities.
In its order, the court enjoined Glynn Rivet from violating the anti-retaliation provisions of the H-2A program; communicating with any of company’s current, former and prospective workers; being within 1,500 feet of any worker; carrying any firearm within 1,500 feet of any worker; and entering into worker housing and the fields where employees work.
The court also prohibited the company from violating the anti-retaliation provisions of the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program. It also requires the company to provide water, handwashing and toilet facilities to workers; advise H-2A workers of their rights; take steps to deter Glynn Rivet from entering the company’s property by installing new locks on worker housing and locked gates at access points to the fields where employees work; and hire an independent third party to prepare and send an H-2A compliance report to the department.
“We will vigorously protect the nation’s vulnerable workforce including agricultural workers,” said Wage and Hour Southwest Regional Administrator Betty Campbell in Dallas. “This successful outcome sends a powerful message to employers and contractors that we will not tolerate retaliation against, punishing or blacklisting of employees because they exercise their rights under the law. Retaliation will have significant consequences. We encourage employers and employees with questions about their respective responsibilities and rights to contact the Wage and Hour Division.”
“The Office of the Solicitor will work tirelessly to protect the rights of H-2A workers including their rights to water, meals, and field sanitation facilities without fear of abuse or retaliation from their employers, said Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater in Denver. “Let this serve as a warning to all employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will work tirelessly to make sure the rights of these workers are not violated.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.