DOL Cities Florida Employer For Labor Violations (Failure To Reimburse Fees)
On March 31st, 2022, the Department of Labor (DOL) cited an employer in Florida for wage and hour violations. The DOL assessed a $37,000 civil penalty and recovered nearly $10,000 in back wages for the affected workers. The enforcement action pertains to the company’s failure to properly reimburse nonimmigrant guest workers for certain fees. In violation of federal regulations, the Florida employer shifted the cost of H-2A visa fees onto its temporary employees. In this article, you will find a more detailed explanation of the enforcement action from the DOL and an overview of the wage and hour rights of guest workers.
Allegations: Workers Were Not Reimbursed in a Timely Manner
Marin J. Corp is a labor contractor with their main headquarters in Avon Park, Florida. Recently, the employer hired a contractor to provide nonimmigrant farm workers to help harvest fruit for an agricultural industry company in Central Florida. Marin J. Corp hired workers through the H-2A visa program. An H-2A visa is a type of employment visa that is designed specifically for temporary agricultural workers.
There are strict rules and regulations in place for employers that use H-2A visas. Notably, federal law requires H-2A employers to reimburse certain fees incurred by migrant farm workers. Under the federal statute, an employer must reimburse the H-2A visa fees within the workers’ first pay period. Federal law explicitly prohibits employers from cost-shifting these fees to workers. An investigation determined that the Marin J. Corp failed to comply with the requirement. Beyond the $37,000 civil fine, $9,500 in unreimbursed fees were recovered for the affected seasonal workers.
Non-Immigrant Migrant Workers Have Wage and Hour Rights Under Federal Law
Wage and hour laws exist to help ensure that workers are paid the full and proper rate by their employer. Navigating a wage and hour claim is complicated—especially so for non-immigrant workers who are employed on a temporary visa. Federal law is clear: Migrant workers are still covered by wage and hour laws. Employers cannot take advantage of seasonal workers by paying them less than the minimum amount required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Additionally, there are some specific wage and hour statutes in place for nonimmigrant temporary workers. The Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor is responsible for administering certain immigration programs. Among other things, the Wage and Hour Division is responsible for ensuring that employers comply with their obligations under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Employers that fail to do so can be held legally liable.
Consult With a Wage and Hour Violation Attorney in Florida
Migrant workers and other employees working on nonimmigrant visas are still protected under certain federal wage and hour statutes. Employers must be held accountable for violations of the rights of employees. If you or your employer is a guest worker who was improperly underpaid, our Florida wage and hour attorneys are standing by, ready to help.