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Workers file wage dispute lawsuit after being lured out of Texas

Much was promised, but little came through. As a result, 18 migrant farm workers have filed a wage dispute lawsuit against both a strawberry farm and its labor recruiters for having lured them out of Texas and into North Carolina with undelivered promises. The workers claim they were paid less than minimum wage and that they were sometimes paid with Wal-Mart money cards that came with a monthly fee and a $2 ATM cash withdrawal charge.

What they were promised was an initial wage of $8.00 per hour while being trained and then an $11 piece rate for each box of strawberries picked. They were also promised no-cost housing with 'full kitchens' in which to cook their meals. With regard to the housing issue, what they got instead was a stay at a motel with nothing more than a microwave in which to prepare their food -- the suit claims the workers incurred higher out-of-pocket costs to purchase microwaveable food that was also of inferior nutritional value.

The suit alleges that the employer did not produce, provide, or maintain accurate payroll records reflecting hours worked or piece units picked as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). W-2 forms also were also never issued. The plaintiffs claim that deductions were made from their pay, but the defendants did not accurately report those deductions to the Social Security administration nor pay their required share.

Federal health and safety laws designed to protect farm workers were also allegedly violated and the plaintiffs claim they were transported to work in unsafe vehicles that did not have fully operational brakes. In their wage dispute and breach of contract lawsuit, the 18 workers who were lured out of Texas with unfulfilled promises are demanding both unpaid wages and damages. When workers find that they are not being treated fairly or that an employer is in violation of the state and federal laws that have been designed to protect them, they will find it in their best interests to obtain the guidance and assistance of a third party well-versed in those laws and seek redress for their grievances through the courts.

Source: courthousenews.com, "Workers Sue Farm and Labor Recruiters," Cameron Langford, Aug. 6, 2013

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