LEHIGH ACRES, FL – Eighty-one workers harvesting squash and zucchini at a Homestead farm discovered the contractor who hired them was not going to provide meals or kitchen facilities. Workers were forced to spend more on meals than $12.46 per day, the amount promised by the contractor, a violation of the federal H-2A guest worker visa program.
An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of Pride Harvesting LLC – a Lehigh Acres-based farm labor employer – led to the recovery of $21,748 in back wages for the workers. The division also assessed a $1,412 civil penalty.
“Agricultural workers are among the most vulnerable essential workers our laws protect,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel Cronin in Miami. “The Wage and Hour Division remains committed to enforcing those protections and ensuring that employers provide workers the wages, meals and housing promised in the job offer. Employers who fail to comply are subject to payment of back wages, civil penalties and potential debarment from program participation. We offer numerous online resources to help businesses comply with the requirements of the law, and we encourage employers to call us directly and confidentially with any questions they may have.”
The H-2A program helps American employers hire temporary foreign workers to fill much-needed roles when sufficient numbers of able, willing and qualified U.S. workers are not available to perform the jobs.
Pride Harvesting LLC provides H-2A workers to harvest squash and zucchini for Torbert Farms Inc. in Homestead.
The division offers multiple compliance assistance resources, including an agriculture compliance assistance toolkit, to provide employers the information they need to comply with the law. For more information about MSPA, H-2A and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). 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.