News Release

US Department of Labor initiative seeks to protect North Carolina’s sweet potato farmworkers from wage theft, other violations

Who: U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division

What: The division will begin an outreach assistance and enforcement initiative to reach employers in North Carolina’s sweet potato industry. Historically, federal investigators have found a high percentage of violations among industry employers, and the initiative seeks to improve compliance.                                      

Quote: “We depend on U.S. farmworkers to help put food on tables here and abroad, yet these hard-working women and men too often fall prey to employers who fail to respect their rights as workers. All agricultural workers have the right to be paid their legally earned wages and be provided safe working, housing and transportation conditions,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Employers who fail to comply with federal laws that protect these workers will be held accountable. We encourage growers, farm labor contractors and agricultural associations to contact us for assistance.”

Background: In fiscal years 2019-2022, the division conducted more than 130 agricultural industry investigations in North Carolina and found violations in 84 percent of them. The findings led to the recovery of more than $1 million in back wages and damages for more than 2,200 workers, and assessments of $1.67 million in civil money penalties to employers to resolve violations.

Workers who feel they may not be getting the wages they earned may contact a Wage and Hour Division representative in their state through a list and interactive online map on the agency’s website. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android Timesheet App for free.

Learn more about Wage and Hour Division.

Wage and Hour Division
October 19, 2022
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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