US DOL Files Restraining Order to Stop LA Farm Operator from Retaliating Against H-2A Workers, Obstructing Investigation
Rosedale, LA (WorkersCompensation.com) - At a sugarcane and soybean farm outside Baton Rouge, agricultural workers faced more than Louisiana's heat and humidity. They dealt with a farm owner and operator, Glynn Rivet, who allegedly denied them adequate food and water, and after the workers asked the owner's son to help them get food and water, the owner yelled obscenities at the workers, threatened them with guns and fired near them. Three of the workers who the owner directly threatened were constructively discharged when they left the farm permanently in fear for their safety.
To address the egregious and threatening behavior of Rivet and Sons LLC, and owner, Glynn Rivet, the U.S. Department of Labor has filed a complaint and motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge asking the court to stop the Rosedale farm, its owners and anyone acting on their behalf from retaliating against current and former employees, including their families, who make complaints or ask for benefits they are entitled to, such as food and water. The motion also asks the court to order Rivet and Sons to refrain from taking any actions that would obstruct the department's Wage and Hour Division's investigation.
In addition, the motion for temporary restraining order asks the court to prohibit the Rosedale farm and its owners from violating federal H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program and certain Occupational Safety and Health regulations. Specifically, the motion asks the court to prohibit Glynn Rivet from carrying a firearm within 5,000 feet of any current, former or prospective H-2A worker; from communicating directly or indirectly or being within 1,500 feet of the workers; or from entering the land and property where the workers are housed.
The motion also asks the court to order the company and Rivet's sons to do the following:
Take all necessary steps to ensure that the court's order regarding Glynn Rivet is enforced and to protect the workers including installing new locks and deadbolts on the exterior doors of the workers' housing, or re-keying the existing locks.
Pay the three workers who were constructively discharged back pay and any other expenses they incurred when they were constructively discharged as a result of defendants' retaliatory actions.
Comply with the OSHA field sanitation standards including providing sufficient and suitably cool potable drinking water as well as toilet and handwashing facilities.
Advise workers of their H-2A rights and protections, including their right to participate in the Wage and Hour Division's investigation without fear of retaliation.
“The U.S. Department of Labor enforces laws that protect workers from abusive and unsafe workplaces,” said Southwest Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Betty Campbell in Dallas. “Agricultural workers perform essential jobs to help feed U.S. consumers and support the nation's economy. They deserve better.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor will use every legal tool available to keep workers safe,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater in Dallas. “Keeping America's workers free from harm is at the core of what the department stands for.”
Rivet & Sons LLC, a 6,000 acre farming business with nine fields in Iberville and Pointe Coupee parishes, is an H-2 agriculture employer that hires foreign workers on special visas to perform agricultural work, such as hand planting and diverting water and removing weeds from the fields. The workers who were threatened were H-2A workers.
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