News Brief

Steele agricultural employer pays over $18K in back wages, penalties after giving H-2A workers preferential treatment over U.S. workers

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Employer:                              Boatwright Farms LLC

                                                2683 County Road 42

                                                Steele, AL 35987                         

Investigation findings: U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found that a Steele agriculture employer underpaid 106 U.S. workers, giving them a lower rate of pay than legally required, among other violations. The agency found that Boatwright Farms LLC recruited and hired H-2A workers to plant, grow, harvest and prepare tomatoes for shipping. The employer violated regulations of the H-2A program by paying U.S. workers in corresponding jobs a lower hourly rate than offered to H-2A workers. The employer also failed to satisfy the job order’s requirements by not stating actual terms and conditions and did not give workers their wage and hours statements. Additionally, the employer violated the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act.

Back wages recovered: The division recovered $8,862 in back wages for 106 workers.

Civil money penalties assessed: The division assessed $9,970 in civil money penalties to the employer. 

Quote: “In order to participate in the H-2A program, agricultural employers are required to pay U.S. workers no less than corresponding H-2A workers,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Kenneth Stripling in Birmingham, Alabama. “Our investigation found that this employer failed to adhere to legal standards when employing workers – including failing to tell them the job requirements and location and failing to give them wage stubs and correct pay. Our agency has multiple resources available to help employers understand their obligations under the law.”

Background: The H-2A program enables agricultural employers to hire temporary non-immigrant workers to meet business demands while protecting U.S. workers. The division offers farmworker rights information, compliance assistance resources for employers and an agriculture compliance assistance toolkit to ensure compliance with the law.

Employees and employers can also contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. 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 and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS timesheet app – now available in Spanish – for free. 

Wage and Hour Division
February 5, 2024
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Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
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