U.S. Department of Labor Debars Georgia Berry Farmer For Violating Guest Worker Visa Requirements
POULAN, GA – The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has debarred Reyes Quality Berry Farm LLC – based in Poulan, Georgia – from applying for certification to request temporary foreign workers under the H-2A agricultural worker visa program for three years. WHD also assessed the employer a $61,265 civil penalty for violating the labor provisions of the H-2A program, and found that the employer owed $47,675 in back wages to 32 employees.
WHD investigators determined Reyes Quality Berry Farm LLC and owner Jhony Reyes failed to provide H-2A employees with at least three-quarters of the work hours that they were guaranteed on their work contracts and failed to pay them the wages required by law under the program. The employer also impeded the investigation by providing falsified information, and failed to maintain and provide required records.
“The Wage and Hour Division provides many tools and educational opportunities to help agricultural employers understand their responsibilities, including those that apply when they request workers under guest worker programs,” said Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Derrick Witherspoon, in Atlanta, Georgia. “Employers or their contractors who violate the H-2A visa program’s provisions create unfair advantages over other H-2A employers, hurt U.S. workers and put guest workers at risk. The Wage and Hour Division remains committed to protecting essential farmworkers, holding accountable employers who violate the provisions of the H-2A program, and maintaining a level playing field for employers.”
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
For more information about the H-2A visa program and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor 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.