$2.3M Back Wages to be Paid to H-2A Workers, Plus $500K Civil Money Penalty

$2.3M Back Wages to be Paid to H-2A Workers, Plus $500K Civil Money Penalty

"Yerington, Nev.-based onion grower Peri & Sons has agreed to pay a record total of $2,338,700 in back wages to 1,365 workers, along with a civil money penalty of $500,000, for violations under the H-2A program.  U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Steven Berlin in San Francisco signed the order granting the consent findings.  “We are pleased to have reached this record agreement to pay workers the wages and expenses they are due,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “In order for the H-2A program to operate as intended, all employers must comply with the law.”  An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that workers employed by Peri & Sons involved in irrigation, as well as harvesting, packing and shipping onions sold in grocery stores nationwide, were not paid properly for work performed. All of the workers came to the U.S. from Mexico under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program. In most cases, their earnings fell below the hourly wage required by the program, as well as below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for a brief period of time. Investigators also found that workers were not paid for time spent in mandatory pesticide training or reimbursed for subsistence expenses while traveling to and from the U.S. Additionally, their return transportation costs at the end of the contract period were not paid, as was required." - DOL, July 10, 2012.