The US. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division found Ostrom Mushroom Farms failed to pay farmworkers the required wage rate, and did not provide cooking facilities or three meals per day, all violations of the H-2A temporary agricultural program. Workers arriving at the place of employment discovered housing listed in the job order was not available, and the employer placed the workers in a hotel temporarily. Investigators confirmed that, during their hotel stay, they had no access to cooking facilities, and the employer failed to provide meals, so the workers were forced to incur expenses to obtain meals daily.
The division assessed $70,348 in civil money penalties on a per-worker basis due to the violations’ seriousness.
Investigators also determined the employer failed to obtain a pre-occupancy inspection of housing, did not keep accurate records, and presented pay stubs without all necessary information, resulting in $1,227 in penalties. They also learned one worker paid a recruiter nearly $10,000 for their visa, resulting in the assessment of $3,067 in civil money penalties for unlawful cost-shifting and for failing to forbid cost-shifting in the labor contract.
Ostrom Mushroom Farms operates on 43 acres of land in Sunnyside with mushroom growing rooms and a packaging facility. The employer supplies produce in Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii to retail grocers such as Safeway, Kroger, and Trader Joe’s and food processors such as Food Services of America.
In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $5.8 million in back wages for 8,260 workers employed in the agricultural industry. After 879 investigations, the division assessed employers more than $7.9 million in civil money penalties for violations of federal regulations.
For more information:
US. Department of Labor
Tel.: +1 415-625-2630
Tel.: +1 415-625-2631