The owner of a cucumber farm in the state of Michigan was ordered by a federal judge to pay minimum wage to workers in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, according to an article appearing on MLive.com.
The report states the farm owner circumvented federal and state minimum wage laws by classifying workers as independent contractors, resulting in employee time violations. The FLSA has requirements that must be met in order for an individual to be classified as an employee, however, as it relates to independent contractors, no such requirements exist.
The farm owner was also charged with intimidating workers, and discouraging them from participating in an investigation conducted by the state's Wage and Hour division.
After reviewing six guidelines that determine the status of workers, the judge determined that they should be classified as employees.
"These actions put agricultural employers on notice that the department is committed to protecting the many low-wage and vulnerable migrant workers, who are susceptible to exploitation and unfair treatment," Karen Chaikin, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest, said in a United States Department of Labor press release.
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