US Department of Labor assesses Washington mushroom farm with $74K in penalties for H-2A program violations, recovers $59K for workers
Employer: Ostrom Mushroom Farms LLC
1111 Midvale Road
Sunnyside, WA 98944
Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division found Ostrom Mushroom Farms failed to pay farmworkers the required wage rate, did not provide cooking facilities or three meals per day, all violations of the H-2A temporary agricultural program. Workers arriving at the place of employment discovered housing listed in the job order was not available and the employer placed the workers in a hotel temporarily. Investigators confirmed that, during their hotel stay, they had no access to cooking facilities and the employer failed to provide meals, so the workers were forced to incur expenses to obtain meals daily.
The division assessed $70,348 in civil money penalties on a per-worker basis due to the violations’ seriousness.
Investigators also determined the employer failed to obtain a pre-occupancy inspection of housing, did not keep accurate records and presented pay stubs without all necessary information, resulting in $1,227 in penalties. They also learned one worker paid a recruiter nearly $10,000 for their visa, resulting in the assessment of $3,067 in civil money penalties for unlawful cost-shifting and for failing to forbid cost-shifting in the labor contract.
Back Wages Recovered: $59,850 in unpaid wages for 62 employees
$74,642 in civil money penalties
Quote: “Employers participating in the H-2A guest worker program must make sure that they provide housing as required, that housing is sanitary, that vehicles used to transport workers are safe and that workers are paid correctly for all hours they work,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Silva in Seattle. “Our nation depends on agricultural industry workers to feed our families, and we are committed to making certain industry employers fulfill their legal responsibilities.”
Background: Ostrom Mushroom Farms operates on 43 acres of land in Sunnyside with mushroom growing rooms and a packaging facility. The employer supplies produce in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii to retail grocers such as Safeway, Kroger and Trader Joe’s and food processors such as Food Services of America.
In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $5.8 million in back wages for 8,260 workers employed in the agricultural industry. After 879 investigations, the division assessed employers more than $7.9 million in civil money penalties for violations of federal regulations.
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.