Farm Labor Sweep Yields 51 Violations in Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Glades and DeSoto Counties
April 3, 2008
Heartland – The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (Department) Farm Labor Enforcement Unit swept a number of areas through Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Glades and DeSoto counties last week in a proactive effort to ensure compliance by farm labor contractors. The week-long sweep resulted in 51 violations observed. The sweep was designed to ensure compliance with the Florida Farm Labor laws, educate employees and employers on the farm labor laws, and enforce the law when violations were discovered.
“Ensuring Florida’s farm labor contractors are complying with the law is critical,” said Interim Secretary Chuck Drago. “We will continue to vigilantly patrol the state throughout harvesting season to ensure that farmworkers are protected from harmful work situations and exploitation.”
Seven teams of at least two farm labor investigators visited the groves and farms in five counties and conducted compliance inspections. Department personnel conducted 232 inspections, interviewed 400 workers, developed 28 cases and observed 51 violations. Violations included: failure to post the terms & conditions of employment at the worksite, field sanitation violations such as lack of drinking cups or hand towels, and passenger vehicle violations such as broken tail lights and defective horns.
Temple and Valencia oranges were the main crops being harvested during the sweep. Although there is a bumper crop of citrus, harvesting was moderate and reflected the present market conditions. Some cultivating (weeding and application of herbicides) of melon, tomatoes, and peppers were found during the sweep. Harvesting of those crops is expected in May and June 2008.
The Department has the authority to assess fines of up to $2,500 for each major farm labor violation. Fine amounts are dependent upon the severity of the violation and the violators’ histories. In extreme cases, the Department has the power to revoke a license or refuse to renew a license.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The Department licenses nearly one million businesses and professionals ranging from real estate agents, veterinarians, and accountants to contractors and cosmetologists. For more information, please visit www.MyFloridaLicense.com.