The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has fined nine farms and 17 farm labor contractors in Bladen and Craven counties, NC, for violating federal labor laws, including employing children as young as eight years old as farm laborers.
The investigation is part of the agency’s ongoing agricultural initiative aimed at protecting the rights of farmworkers under provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
Other violations include failure to disclose terms and conditions of employment as required by MSPA, recordkeeping violations, and violations of federal minimum wage laws. Penalties imposed against the 26 employers total $31,445 in addition to $40,010 in back wages owed to 428 farmworkers.
“Agricultural employers in North Carolina must understand that the Labor Department will vigorously enforce federal labor laws whenever we find that employees are illegally employed,” said Richard Blaylock, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Raleigh. “Agricultural employment is particularly dangerous for children, and the rules for their employment must be followed.”