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Department of Labor assesses Ostrom Farms, finds $74K in penalties

The United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division found Ostrom Mushroom Farms LLC failed to pay its workers the required wage rate, nor did they provide cooking facilities or three meals per day, which are all violations of the H-2A temporary agricultural program, according to a press release from the DOL on Thursday, August 10.

The press release goes on to say that workers discovered the housing listed in the job order was not available, and that Ostrom Farms placed the workers in a hotel temporarily. Investigators confirmed that, during their hotel stay, workers had no access to cooking facilities and the employer failed to provide meals, so the workers were forced to incur expenses to obtain meals daily.

The division assessed $70,348 in civil money penalties on a per-worker basis due to the violations' seriousness.

The investigators also found that Ostrom Farms failed to obtain a pre-occupancy inspection of housing, did not keep accurate records and presented pay stubs without all necessary information, resulting in $1,227 in penalties. Investigators also learned one worker paid a recruiter nearly $10,000 for their visa, resulting in the assessment of $3,067 in civil money penalties for unlawful cost-shifting and for failing to forbid cost-shifting in the labor contract.

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