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California labor contractor ordered to pay seasonal farmworkers


A California labor contractor 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. Department of Labor announced Thursday.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Salinas, California-based A. Oseguera Company Inc. and owners Antonio Oseguera and Hilda Oseguera Garibay to pay $410,606 in liquidated damages and $41,351 in travel and subsistence costs to 542 workers, along with $8,541 in civil penalties.

The affected employees are U.S. workers who were hired under the H-2A temporary agriculture program.

Investigators with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division said that the company’s missed payroll led to 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 workers at their required rate of pay, failing to pay outbound transportation and subsistence costs required by the H-2A program, failing to keep accurate pay records and failing to satisfy requirements of the job order.

The consent judgment also requires the company to hire a full-time monitor to oversee H-2A operations, increase the size of its surety bonds and requires supervisors, foremen and payroll personnel to undergo trainings on federal law.

The company is a labor contractor that employs workers to harvest seasonal crops in parts of California.