J. Roland Wood Farms, a Benson tobacco and sweet potato grower, has paid nearly $21,000 in back pay and penalties to 138 migrant workers following a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation into violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
DOL investigators found the farm had failed to pay wages when due, inform migrant workers that rent would be deducted from their wages, disclose employment terms and conditions in a language the workers could understand and provide required wage statements to workers.
The investigation found the farm made $16,870 worth of illegal deductions from the workers’ paychecks.
Investigators also found substandard housing conditions, including faulty septic tanks that exposed workers to raw sewage. Previous DOL investigations had uncovered similar violations.
Note: When it comes to DOL investigations, employers should be “once-bitten, twice shy.” Fix repeat violations to show good faith.