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US Department of Labor finds Idaho potato farm shortchanges wages for guest workers

As a result of the investigation, the Department of Labor recovered $159,256 in unpaid wages and assessed $25,430 in civil money penalties
The US Department of Labor has recovered $159,000 in unpaid wages from an Idaho farm
The US Department of Labor has recovered $159,000 in unpaid wages from an Idaho farm(Source: U.S. Department of Labor Facebook page)
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 12:36 PM MST
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BANCROFT, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — An investigation from the US Department of Labor has found an Idaho potato farm was shortchanging the wages of guest workers as well as exposing them to substandard living conditions.

The investigation also found that the farm, Jorgensen Management Inc. in Bancroft, had used threats and intimidation to exploit workers.

According to a press release from the Department, the farm:

  • Failed to pay the required rates to 69 domestic workers hired alongside H-2A visa workers
  • Failed to provide H-2A workers with at least three-quarters of the work hours guaranteed on their contracts
  • Failed to reimburse workers for inbound transportation costs

The Department of Labor also found the employer threatened to terminate the work contract and send workers back to Mexico if they refused to accept wages at a lower rate than legally required under the H-2A program.

Jorgensen Management Inc. was also found to be in violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act by failing to meet mandatory housing safety and health standards, failing to disclose all conditions of employment, failing to provide wage statements to workers, and failing to pay when wages were due.

As a result of the investigation, the Department of Labor recovered $159,256 in unpaid wages and assessed $25,430 in civil money penalties.

“By threatening and shortchanging some of the lowest paid workers in our nation, Jorgensen Management showed a willful disregard for the law. They created a toxic workplace and victimized these vulnerable workers,” said Wage and Hour District Director Carrie Aguilar in Portland, Oregon. “The outcome of this investigation sends a strong message to other employers that the Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate abuses of the H-2A program and will protect the rights of all people working in the U.S.”

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