In a recent wage and hour dispute, the Northern District of Georgia awarded current and former farmworkers nearly $1.5 million in back wages and damages. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) complaint asserted that a Glennville onion grower, packer, and shipper violated federal wage law. The FLSA provides that all non-exempt workers be paid at least minimum wage, and be compensated at a rate of one and one-half their standard rate of pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in any work week. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour.
In this instance, according to the complaint, the farm violated overtime pay requirements for many of the workers working in its packing shed. While an agricultural exemption exists (meaning the workers are not-entitled to overtime pay, regardless of the number of hours worked) for those workers involved in growing or process and packaging the onions, this exemption only applied to workers who were processing or packaging products produced by that company. Where the workers packaged onions grown by other farmers, the exemption did not apply. One observer noted that unfortunately wage violations remain common in the farming industry and underscored the importance of educating farm workers concerning their wage and hour rights.
For more information or if you believe that you have not been paid what you deserve, or have any other wage and hour question, please contact the experienced Georgia FLSA lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.