Farm labor company cheated foreign migrant workers out of pay, food and proper housing

Migrant workers in Florida fields
Migrant workers in Florida fields

Florida company Sauceda Contractor paid back pay and U.S. Department of Labor fines after violating the rights of foreign workers it brought in on H-2A visas to harvest cabbage.

While the workers worked the Barnes Farm fields in Hastings, 18 miles southwest of St. Augustine, the Department of Labor said the company started by Mentor Sauceda in 2000:

“Failed to provide the number of meals for which it charged workers.”

“Failed to reimburse H-2A workers for their transportation expenses from their home countries.”

“Failed to reimburse workers for their visa fees.”

“Failed to meet the housing safety and health requirements.”

Sauceda also failed to renew its Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act farm labor contractor’s certification.

Also, Sauceda advertised in Alabama and Georgia newspapers for Florida positions. Sauceda’s newspaper ads targeting American workers said they had to be able to lift 60 pounds. No such minimum was placed on H-2A foreign workers, the Departmet of Labor said.

“Any employer seeking H-2A workers must be ready and willing to abide by all of the program’s requirements, and must not attempt to shift any of the employer’s costs onto the workers,” Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel White said in announcing the fines. “This case demonstrates our commitment to protect vulnerable workers from being paid less than they are legally owed or otherwise working under substandard conditions, and to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers.”

Sauceda paid $19,847 in back wages to 53 employees, an average of $347.47 per employee, and was dunned $5,526 by the Wage and Hour Division.