Florida company pays penalty for work visa violation

A New Smyrna Beach beekeeper and honey maker got hit with a $6,357 civil penalty,…

A New Smyrna Beach beekeeper and honey maker got hit with a $6,357 civil penalty, the U.S. Department of Labor announced, after violating H-2A visa program rules.

S&S Apiaries also owes three H-2A workers $4,130 in back pay, $1,376.67 per worker.

Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found that S&S, founded by owner Jesse Azam and registered in Florida since 2010, “failed to pay employees for any hours they worked beyond 50 in a workweek.”

Labor said that 50-hour workweek was stated as 38 hours in S&S’s petition for the H-2A program, which allows a company to bring in guest workers for seasonal or temporary work if their attempt to find U.S. workers didn’t fill the jobs.

S&S also didn’t give H-2A workers a copy of their contract nor did it display, as required, an H-2A poster that explains H-2A workers’ rights. Labor has these posters available, at no cost, in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.

A message left by The Herald with S&S for comment wasn’t returned.

“Agricultural employers that bring in temporary guest workers on H-2A visas must comply with all the program’s requirements, including accurately advertising the terms and conditions of the job,” said Orlando District Wage and Hour Director Wildalí De Jesús. “Failure to properly disclose the accurate number of potential work hours may discourage qualified U.S. applicants from applying to the position.”

The Wage and Hour complaint section of the Department of Labor website contains information on how to file a complaint. Miami’s Wage and Hour Division office can be reached at 305-598-6607.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.