Fines Continue to Rise for COVID-19 Violations

Since August 25, 2020, Cal/OSHA inspections have resulted in more than $1 million of proposed penalties related to COVID-19 infection prevention.

The inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

 

  • Provide sufficient shade for workers to adequately physically distance while taking breaks;
  • Properly maintain records related to COVID-19;
  • Immediately report a COVID-19 related fatality to Cal/OSHA;
  • Implement physical distancing protocols;
  • Record illnesses on their Cal/OSHA log 300;
  • Conduct periodic inspections of the workplace; and
  • Correct unhealthy conditions or work practices relating to COVID-19.

A list of the citations and more details of each inspection can be found here.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Cal/OSHA recently updated its COVID-19 Infection Prevention for Agricultural Employers and Employees which can be found here. If you have questions about your company’s COVID-19 safety policies and practices or concerns regarding Cal/OSHA’s guidance, please contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.

Farm Labor Services Recruiter Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Immigration Fraud Scheme

Jorge Vasquez, the owner of H-2A Placement Services in Rancho Cucamonga, California, was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $135,000 in restitution for his role in an immigration fraud scheme involving the recruitment of H-2A workers.

Vasquez conspired with a farm labor contracting company in Ventura County to illegally charge Mexican nationals as much as $3,000 to obtain their H-2A visas. Vasquez also failed to inform the workers they would be charged for housing, food, and transportation, and made false promises about the how long the workers’ visa would be valid. Furthermore, Vasquez made false statements in the workers’ visa applications, which prompted an investigation by the Department of Labor, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Diplomatic Security Service.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Immigration fraud continues to be a high enforcement priority for the federal government. If you have any questions about your policies and practices or concerns of your company’s contracts with farm labor contractors and recruiters, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.

The Future of Employment and Labor Laws in a Biden-Harris Administration

Employers should anticipate substantial changes to Federal employment regulation and agency oversight under President Elect Joe Biden’s administration. These changes will likely involve dismantling or weakening many of the Trump administration’s business-friendly policies.

First, employers should expect the Biden administration to prioritize more worker-friendly and worker-safety policies, especially during COVID-19.

Next, employers may have to pay their employees more and offer more benefits as Biden has previously called for a $15 federal minimum wage, universal paid sick days, and increasing enforcement of workplace safety and health mandates through OSHA.

Finally, Biden’s campaign focused on strengthening collective bargaining and unions. Biden has previously advocated for banning employers from using mandatory arbitration agreements. President Elect Biden’s appointments to agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may open the door for previous NLRB decisions to be revisited and possibly reversed.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Transitions always require careful planning, but this particular presidential transition during the COVID-19 pandemic should be monitored closely by employers. Employers are highly encouraged to review current practices and familiarize themselves with potential upcoming policy changes. If you would like assistance in reviewing those policies and/or practices, please contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.

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