Arriaga v Florida Pacific Farms L.L.C

Arriaga v Florida Pacific Farms L.L.C - Arriaga v Florida...

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1 Arriaga v. Florida Pacific Farms, L.L.C. 305 F.3d 1228 (11th Cir. 2002) U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit KRAVITCH, Circuit Judge: The plaintiffs-appellants are migrant farm workers from Mexico (the "Farmworkers") employed by the defendants-appellees Florida Pacific Farms, L.L.C. and Sleepy Creek Farms, Inc. (the "Growers") during the 1998-1999 strawberry and raspberry seasons. The Farmworkers sued the Growers, alleging a failure by the Growers to comply with the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 203(m) & 206(a)…Specifically, the FLSA claim asserted that the Growers' failure to reimburse the Farmworkers' travel, visa, and recruitment costs [related to their travel from Mexico to the Growers’ farms] at the end of the first workweek pushed their first week's wages below the minimum wage… The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which were based upon an agreed statement of undisputed facts. The district court granted the Growers' motion and denied the Farmworkers' motion. The court concluded that the Growers were not obligated under the FLSA to reimburse transportation and visa costs because such expenses were not primarily for the benefit of the employer as defined by the FLSA and Department of Labor ("DOL") regulations. Because the Growers had not authorized the referral [or “recruitment”] fees and lacked awareness or control of that practice, the court held that they should not be responsible for reimbursing the fees… Because the district court misinterpreted the DOL regulations, we hold that it erred in determining that the Growers are not obligated to reimburse the Farmworkers for their transportation, visa, and immigration expenses… I. BACKGROUND A. H-2A Program Overview As part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 ("IRCA"), Pub. L. No. 99- 603, 100 Stat. 3359 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.), the H-2A program was established. See U.S.C. § 1188. Under the program a category of nonimmigrant foreign workers can be used for temporary agricultural employment within the United States. See id. Agricultural employers are permitted to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers under the H-2A program if they first obtain from DOL certification that (1) there are insufficient domestic workers who are willing, able, and qualified to perform the work at the time and place needed; 1 and (2) the employment of aliens will not 1 In addition to searching for domestic workers before gaining DOL certification, agricultural employers must hire any qualified domestic worker who seeks employment, under the terms of the work contract, during the first fifty percent of the work contract period. See 8 U.S.C. § 1188(c)(3)(B)(i)…
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2 adversely affect the wages and working conditions of domestic workers. See id. §§ 1184(c)(1), 1188(a)(1). The conditions under which an H-2A worker may be allowed into the United States for
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Arriaga v Florida Pacific Farms L.L.C - Arriaga v Florida...

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