Three Florida beekeeping farms received civil penalties for failing to comply with federal laws regarding pay practices and employment of migrants and seasonal workers. The US Department of Labor announced the H-2A violations in a press release on Thursday, December 9th.
In separate inquiries, the DOL Wage and Hour Division uncovered violations of the H-2A program and the Migrant Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act at businesses in Gulf and Brevard counties. In Wewahitchka, Big River Honey of Gulf County paid $7,265 in civil penalties after getting cited for several violations. One of these violations is advertising multiple requirements for the US workers and not applying the same to H-2A workers. The second violation is paying H-2A workers higher rates than corresponding US workers doing the same work.
The third violation is failing to provide copies of the contract to workers and failing to give some workers pay statements for two months of work. In Brevard County, the DOL found that Flowing Gold Apiaries in Grant changed contract terms after their employees resumed work. The company also paid H-2A workers higher than the advertised rate.
According to the DOL, by advertising lower rates, the employer possibly discouraged US workers from applying for the job. DOL Wage and Hour Division District Office Director Wildali De Jesus said their investigations find that beekeeping operations in Florida keep struggling to comply with H-2A compliance and meet their obligations to essential agricultural workers. He urged beekeeping employers to contact their offices for any help with compliance and understanding their responsibilities so as to avoid any further H-2A violations.
As a Florida worker, the law guarantees you specific rights, with workers’ compensation being one of them. If you find your employer infringing on your rights, contact a Florida workers’ compensation attorney immediately for legal advice and representation.