Georgia landscaper ordered to pay $175K in back wages, penalties after US Department of Labor finds violations of H-2A worker program
SUGAR HILL, GA – A Sugar Hill landscape company violated requirements of the federal H-2A temporary agricultural worker programs related to hours, wages, transportation costs and work assignments, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor determined.
Following the investigation and subsequent lawsuit by the Solicitor of Labor, the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges ordered Resendiz Pine Straw LLC to pay $136,971 in back wages to 110 workers, and affirmed the assessment of a $39,016 civil money penalty due to the nature of the violations. The order also debars Resendiz from participating in the H-2A program for three years.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found the employer – operating as Resendiz Pine Straw LLC and Tobacco – misrepresented the work location of the employees in the H-2A application and sent some employees nearly 600 miles away to do farm work in Arcadia, Florida, when there was not enough work in Sugar Hill. By doing so, the employer engaged in cost-shifting and failed to provide workers at least three-quarters of the hours of work stated in the original job offer. Resendiz failed to uphold the terms of the H-2A contract regarding pay, duties and housing.
The division also found Resendiz did not reimburse workers for all their transportation costs as the law requires, failed to provide them with copies of their contracts and deducted time for breaks and lunches illegally. These deductions resulted in underpayment of wages.
“The H-2A visa program allows agricultural employers to hire temporary workers to address labor shortages. These H-2A workers keep food on our tables, allow agricultural employers to stay in business, and help our communities thrive,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida. “The hard work done by these men and women is vital to food production and the agricultural community. We encourage any employer with questions about pay practices, hours of work or any of our H visa programs to contact us for guidance.”
H-2A programs govern labor standards for temporary, nonimmigrant workers who come to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. Learn more about the H-2A program and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division.
Read this news release En Español.