A California worker must pay more than $460,000 in damages and penalties to hundreds of farmworkers who claimed the employer withheld their final paychecks and transportation expenses in violation of federal law, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Salinas, Calif.-based A. Oseguera Company Inc. and owners Antonio Oseguera and Hilda Oseguera Garibay to pay $410,606 in liquidation and $41,351 in travel and subsistence expenses to 542 workers, along with $8,541 in civil penalties.
The affected employees are American workers who were hired under the H-2A temporary agricultural program.
Investigators with the DOL̵7;s Wage and Hour Division said the company’s failure to produce payroll resulted in violations of the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
The company violated federal law by failing to pay the workers at their required wage rate, failing to pay outgoing transportation and subsistence expenses required by the H-2A program, failing to maintain proper payroll records, and failing to comply with the requirements of the work order.
The consent decree also requires the company to hire a full-time supervisor to oversee H-2A operations, increase the size of its surety bonds and require supervisors, supervisors and payroll staff to undergo federal law training.
The company is a labor contractor that hires workers to harvest seasonal crops in parts of California.