May 21, 2022
By KAREN VELIE
The US Department of Labor has fined five farms, including one in Nipomo and three in Santa Maria, for withholding pay and benefits owed to farm workers nationwide under the federal H-2A program.
The H-2A program allows employers to bring workers here from other countries to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work or services. An ongoing review found that some California vegetable farms failed to provide H-2A workers with the pay, benefits and personal protections required by law.
In a series of investigations conducted from April 2020 to February 2022, the federal agency found that the five farms failed to reimburse salaries, provide meals or cooking facilities, pay for required inbound and outbound transportation, and allowed workers to be transported safely. .
The investigations led to the recovery of $225,114 in back wages for 588 workers and the imposition of $54,617 in penalties on the following five farms:
SARC in Nipomo: Failed to pay for incoming transportation and meals and made improper deductions for meals and unpaid work hours. Also, did not ensure health and safety standards. SARC paid $34,996 in back wages to 42 employees and $13,160 in penalties.
Adam Bros Farming in Santa Maria: Did not provide meals or cooking facilities, transportation, and meal expenses. Failed to pay all required wages and illegally deducted meal expenses, including when meals were not provided. The employer paid $94,146 in back wages to 30 employees and $7,862 in penalties.
Boavista Farms in Santa Maria: Failed to pay required inbound and outbound transportation and meal fees. Did not pay all required salaries. Boavista Farms was ordered to pay $43,297 in back wages to 28 employees and $5,361 in penalties.
Profresco Inc. in Santa Maria: Failed to pay all required round-trip transportation and meals, and failed to meet security requirements. Profresco Farms paid $50,789 in back wages to 471 employees and $7,505 in penalties.
Togliatti Farms LLC in San Martin: Failed to pay required inbound freight and failed to pay required rate of pay. Togliatti Farms was ordered to pay $1,885 in back wages to 17 workers and $20,729 in penalties.