US Department of Labor assesses $37K penalty to Avon Park farm labor contractor who failed to reimburse fees to blueberry farmworkers in Venus
AVON PARK, FL – A labor contractor who provided farm workers to harvest blueberries for OzBlu in Venus failed to reimburse workers for the cost their visa fees in violation of federal law, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found.
The H-2A program that allows the employment of nonimmigrant workers for agricultural and seasonal work requires employers to reimburse workers for visa fees by the end of their first workweek or pay period.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Jorge Marin– operating as Marin J. Corp. in Avon Park – violated program requirements that prohibit cost-shifting by failing to reimburse the workers.
As a result of the investigation, the division recovered $9,500 in back wages for the affected workers. In addition, the employer paid a $37,500 civil money penalty to address the H-2A temporary agricultural workers visa program violations.
“The H-2A visa program requires employers to reimburse workers certain costs, such as visa fees,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Office Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida. “Employers who attempt to transfer costs to workers face substantial penalties and may be required to pay back wages. We encourage all employers and workers to review the laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, and to contact us with questions.”
For information about the H-2A visa program, Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Calls can be answered in over 200 languages regardless of immigration status. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.