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Cassaday Farms of Monroeville agreed to pay $117,130 in back wages and $57,870 in penalties to settle charges that the business unlawfully rejected 13 United States workers from Puerto Rico who were qualified and available for work.
The charges, brought by the U.S. Department of Labor, claimed that in offering seasonal work on its farm, Cassaday did not demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who were able, willing, qualified, and available to do the jobs, and that the employment instead of H-2A workers would not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
“By denying qualified U.S. workers employment, Cassaday Farms did what H-2A regulations help prevent,” said Charlene Rachor, director of the Southern New Jersey District Office of the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “This consent finding and order underscores our commitment to hold employers accountable when they attempt to circumvent the law to gain a competitive advantage.”
Wage and Hour investigators determined that, from March 2012 through December 2012, the farm failed to comply with federal recruitment requirements by unlawfully rejecting 13 U.S. workers from Puerto Rico, who were qualified and available for work. The agency also found that the farm offered terms and working conditions to U.S. workers that were less favorable than those offered to H-2A workers and did not maintain all required records.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent finding and order requires the farm to retain a third-party monitor for a three-year period. The monitor will review Cassaday Farm’s operations to ensure its compliance with the H-2A program, including:
*Recruitment of U.S. workers.
*Rates paid to H-2A workers.
*Rates paid to workers in corresponding employment.
*Accurate recording of and payment for all hours worked.
*Disclosure of work contracts to H-2A workers and workers in corresponding employment.
*Compliance with requirements for hours and earning statements.
*Deductions from wages or charges against wages.
*Reimbursement for transportation and travel expenses.
Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.
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