The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered several Michigan blueberry farmers and contractors to pay $106,000 in penalties and back wages after an investigation revealed migrant housing and child labor law violations. The farmers were also order to pay close to $30,000 in back wages to hand-harvest growers for wage and overtime violations.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour for all hours worked, and provides standards regarding overtime compensation and employment of minors.
The penalties were assessed against 18 blueberry growers after DOL officials discovered that the migrant workers were provided with horrible living conditions, such as no hot water, insect infestations and overcrowding. In addition to the inhumane living conditions, the growers failed to pay adequate wages, provide overtime compensation and follow laws regarding underage workers.
Some of the growers have paid the fines and back wages, although many are appealing.