Judge affirms Department of Labor findings that Georgia nursery favored 29 foreign workers over US workers; provided unsafe housing

Robert Hundley

Pure Magnificence Farms Inc. pays $200K in penalties, again wages to take care of H-2A violations

ATLANTA – An administrative law decide has entered a consent buy subsequent a U.S. Office of Labor investigation that identified a wholesale plant nursery in Miami gave overseas visa personnel preferential treatment method more than U.S. staff, and housed workers in unprotected and harmful disorders in Greensboro, Ga.

The action by the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges counters Pure Elegance Farms Inc.’s attempt to problem an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, which determined several violations of the federal H-2A plan that will allow U.S. agricultural employers to temporarily employ the service of overseas personnel to fulfill labor requires when U.S. workers can not fill positions.

Pure Elegance Farms grows more than 1,000 different versions of plants in Greensboro and in Houston, and materials substantial suppliers, these as the Home Depot, and other impartial back garden centers and stores, as perfectly as landscapers and concept parks in eight states, such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

The division’s investigations found the employer:

  • Gave preferential remedy to H-2A application employees by demanding U.S. candidates to have specified nursery perform knowledge and to give references, steps not demanded for foreign staff. The employer turned down 29 U.S. candidates as a final result, like various who previously executed the same position for Pure Attractiveness.
  • Failed to satisfy specifications of the occupation purchase by not stating precise deal phrases and disorders by failing to disclose the address of the workers’ housing camp.
  • Neglected to give two personnel with copies of the Ga work contract.
  • Excluded function hrs and the federal tax identification quantity essential on pay back stubs.
  • Supplied housing that violated security and wellness needs. Investigators uncovered living quarters with too much debris, hearth alarms with out batteries, h2o and mold hurt, flooring with holes, unclean restrooms and foodstuff storage, and a lack of appropriate lights.

To resolve the H-2A violations, the division assessed Pure Elegance Farms $182,811 in penalties and essential the employer to enter into a consent judgment. The settlement commits the employer to long term compliance with the H-2A provisions, which include oversight by an unbiased, 3rd-party marketing consultant to keep track of and audit all Pure Magnificence H-2A labor contractor and H-2A actions for a period of three several years. The department also recovered $17,651 in back again wages that investigators discovered was owed to 1 worker.

“Retailers and buyers may possibly be troubled to learn how some agricultural companies address the folks whose difficult perform provides the products they obtain,” claimed Wage and Hour Division Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “The federal H-2A method exists to aid employers fill positions in the agricultural business when they simply cannot come across U.S. employees. As well frequently, our investigators find out violations and abuses, and obtain U.S. workers  have been illegally bypassed in the recruitment and selecting approach.”

“In this circumstance, we also located the employer housed workers in unsafe and unhealthy situations, which is unacceptable, and which contributed to significant penalties for the Pure Attractiveness Farms,” Salazar extra. “Clearly, the outcomes of violating the regulation can be pretty pricey. We persuade companies to contact us with  questions and to request guidance to avoid infractions.”

The division offers numerous compliance aid means, like an agriculture compliance guidance toolkit, to offer companies the data they require to comply with the legislation.

For a lot more details about the FLSA and other staff rights enforced by the division, contact the toll-absolutely free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with inquiries no matter of wherever they are from and the division can converse with callers in extra than 200 languages.  Assistance ensure several hours worked and fork out are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for no cost, also obtainable in Spanish.

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