H-2A/USDOL COMPLIANCE AND DEFENSE
H-2A SURVIVAL GUIDE
I’M ALL IN!!!....SO NOW WHAT?
Once a “last resort”, the H-2A Guest worker program has become the predominant labor source for the California agricultural industry. With that has come an outright assault on users of the program by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), and Legal Assistance foundations set up under the Law Services Corporation, using your tax dollars to attack the very practices authorized by the USDOL. All too often we deal with the USDOL, which has an extremely high incidence of penalizing H-2A users, by attacking their own program instead of offering outreach and education.
In the most acute labor shortage anyone can remember in California Agriculture, many growers and labor providers have been forced into this program as the only way to meet the manpower requirements for bringing crops to market. Users go in “not knowing what they don’t know”; as a result, there has been a proliferation of claims, inspections, fines and lawsuits seeking economic damages. For even a small workforce contingent brought into the U.S. under this program, such cases can result in multi-million dollar verdicts, threatening the labor-starved businesses the program is intended to bolster. Many employers are ill-equipped to deal with the financial aftermath of such litigation, whether they win the case or not.
There has also been a sharp uptick in cases dealing with the murky interaction between the H-2A workforce contingent and a grower’s domestic crewmembers, who may or may not be considered “corresponding employees,” thereby triggering another enormous undertaking in the area of compliance practices.
Making the right structural and operational changes in the program design and implementation stages – with an eye for the challenges that are consistent, predictable and reoccurring – can deter claims and minimize exposure to any challenge that may eventually arise. The Saqui Law Group has essential, in-depth knowledge of the claims and exposure that may arise in this area of H-2A Program Guest Worker employment. From briefing management teams on developing trends, dealing with claims from legal assistance organizations regarding wage and hour and discrimination, to assisting with and defending USDOL inspections and citations, The Saqui Law Group team has become a relied-upon resource in assessing the business climate and protecting client-companies.