SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment that orders a Salinas labor contractor – who withheld final paychecks and transportation expenses – to hundreds of farmworkers to pay more than $460,000 in damages and penalties, following the department’s investigation and litigation.
The action by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requires A. Oseguera Company Inc. and owners Antonio Oseguera and Hilda Oseguera Garibay to pay $410,606 in liquidated damages and $41,351 in travel and subsistence costs to 542 affected workers. Payment must be made within 150 days.
The court also affirmed the department’s assessment of $8,541 in civil money penalties for their violations.
This consent judgment follows the recovery of $977,590 in wages by the department’s Wage and Hour Division from the company and its owners in December 2021. The affected workers are U.S. workers and workers hired under the H-2A temporary agricultural program.
Division investigators determined the employers’ missed payroll led to violations of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the H-2A temporary agricultural program under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The A. Oseguera Company and its owners violated federal law by failing to:
Pay workers at their required rate of pay.
Pay outbound transportation and subsistence costs as the H-2A program requires.
Keep accurate pay records.
Satisfy the requirements of the job order.
“Agricultural workers do the hard work needed to feed our nation and those who employ them must meet federal wage and other requirements or face the consequences,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez in San Francisco. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s investigation and litigation sends a signal to industry employers that we will not tolerate their failure to respect the dignity of workers and meet their legal responsibilities.”
In addition to the damages and penalties required, the consent judgment will hold A. Oseguera Company in contempt for any future violations of FLSA, MSPA or the H-2A regulations under the INA and automatically bar it and its owners from participating in the H-2A program for three years should they commit any other H-2A violations cited in the consent judgment. The judgment also requires A. Oseguera to hire a full-time monitor to oversee their H-2A and MSPA operations, significantly increase the sizes of their surety bonds and requires supervisors, foremen and payroll personnel to attend four trainings on the FLSA, MSPA and INA in the next two years.
“For years, Antonio Oseguera and his company have ignored their obligations under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program,” said Regional Solicitor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco. “The Solicitor’s Office will take every legal step necessary to protect the safety, well-being and wages of temporary guest workers. These steps may include seeking to use the power of a federal court to make employers to comply with the law and prevent them from hiring H-2A program workers.”
A. Oseguera Company Inc. is an H-2A farm labor contractor that employs workers to harvest crops seasonally in and around Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties in California. The company also operates and has a satellite office in Yuma, Arizona.
The division offers farmworker rights information, compliance assistance resources for employers, an agriculture compliance assistance toolkit to ensure compliance with the law.
Employees and employers can also contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android Timesheet App – now available in Spanish – for free.