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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has debarred Flo-Ag LLC – a farm labor contracting company based in Labelle, Florida – and its principals Jose Flores and Juan Flores from applying for certification to request temporary foreign workers under the H-2A agricultural worker visa program for two years, according to a recent press release.

The WHD reports that their mission “is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.”

WHD also assessed Flo-Ag LLC, Jose Flores and Juan Flores a $17,939 civil penalty for violating the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), and found that the employer owed $45,212 in back wages to 113 employees.

WHD investigators found Flo-Ag and H-2A labor contractors Juan and Jose Flores violated wage requirements when they paid lower wages to U.S. workers than they paid to guest workers performing the same work. They violated housing requirements when they failed to provide free housing to U.S. workers but did so for guest workers, and failed to provide meals or kitchen facilities to U.S. workers. WHD also found Flo-Ag paid some U.S. workers in cash and did not provide a pay stub, failed to provide a work contract to some employees, and housed migrant workers without the proper authorization.

Wage and Hour Division District Director Wildalí De Jesús, who is based in Orlando, stated on the recent actions:

Employers must ensure that they comply with all requirements while participating in the H-2A visa program. Employers or their contractors that violate the H-2A visa program’s provisions gain unfair advantage over other H-2A employers, hurt U.S. workers and put guest workers at risk. The Wage and Hour Division provides many tools and educational opportunities to help agricultural employers understand their responsibilities, including those that apply when they use guest worker programs. We remain committed to protecting essential farmworkers, holding accountable employers who violate the law, and maintaining a level playing field for employers.

For the complete release and more resources please visit the Department of Labor website.

Updated: Wed, Dec 16th 2020 @ 11:55am EST