Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department agricultural enforcement initiative in western North Carolina results in penalties levied against 2 agricultural employers
Strike force goal was to prevent child labor and migrant farm worker abuses during harvest
RALEIGH, N.C. -- As the result of a U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division Tomato Strike Force initiative, penalties are being imposed against two agricultural employers in western North Carolina that violated provisions of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
The investigations are part of an initiative undertaken by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division to ensure that migrant and seasonal workers’ rights were protected and employers adhered to rules concerning child labor during this year’s tomato harvest in North Carolina. Before the harvest season began, Wage and Hour Division staff met with growers and farm labor contractors to educate them on the applicable federal labor laws.
“A positive result from our efforts at educating employers was that we found no child labor violations during the tomato harvest, although we still found some employers failing to fully meet their obligations to their migrant and seasonal workers,” said Oliver Peebles III, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. “Wage and Hour Division investigators will continue to actively work with agricultural communities to ensure that migrant workers and minors receive the protection afforded them under federal labor laws.”
Perez Brothers Produce Inc. in Hendersonville, N.C., was assessed $6,700 in penalties after investigators found that the employer failed to disclose employment conditions to workers, post a MSPA poster at the worksite, make and keep employer records, pay wages when due and ensure that each driver of a transportation vehicle had a valid driver’s license.
An investigation of the Burress/Vargas Farm in Canton, N.C., found that the employer had failed to disclose employment conditions to workers, post a MSPA poster at the worksite, keep and maintain employer records, provide wage statements to workers, maintain records required by MSPA and pay wages when due. The employer has agreed to come into compliance, paying five workers $394 each in back wages and was assessed a $2,450 penalty.
The Wage and Hour Division’s Tomato Strike Force initiative is part of the Labor Department’s efforts to enforce federal labor laws for migrant and seasonal workers and workers in low-wage occupations. The department has instituted a “We Can Help” campaign to inform employers of their responsibilities and workers of their rights under federal law. For more information on “We Can Help,” MSPA and the Fair Labor Standards Act, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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