Produce Company to Pay $270,000 in Back Wages and Penalties for Improper Payment to H-2A Temporary Workers

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Daniels Produce will pay 89 Mexican and Guatemalan guest workers $250,000 in back wages for work at the Columbus produce farm. It will also pay $20,000 in civil penalties for violating provisions of the H-2A temporary worker visa program, which allows employers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. for agricultural labor.

Investigators found Daniels Produce violated the H-2A visa provisions by:

Falsifying records to indicate they paid the legally required minimum wage for workers under the visa program.

Giving preferential treatment to H-2A workers,  paying them more than others, including U.S. citizens, employed in similar jobs.

Failing to reimburse H-2A workers for the cost of their inbound/outbound transportation and subsistence expenses.

Failing to provide complete earning records to employees.

Failing to properly insure vehicles used to transport workers.

The company employed the workers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons to pick and pack produce grown in its 500-acre fields near Columbus.

Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve an employer’s petition for H-2A visa workers, an employer must file an application with the department stating that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available, and that the employment of nonimmigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The law provides for numerous worker protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working conditions that do not apply to nonagricultural programs.

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