Three Santa Maria farms ― including Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., operated by former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam and his family ― were fined by the U.S. Department of Labor for multiple violations of the federal H-2A guest worker program.
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring in foreign nationals to fill temporary agricultural jobs. An investigation found Adam Bros. violated a number of program requirements by failing to provide laborers contracts at the time of their hire and pay them all required wages. The farm also didn’t provide meals or transportation and illegally deducted food costs from workers’ paychecks, officials said. Adam Bros. was ordered to pay $94,146 in back wages to 30 employees and $7,862 in penalties.
“Employers that benefit from the H-2A guest worker program must be aware of all their responsibilities,” said Department of Labor official Ruben Rosalez. “Agricultural workers employed under the H-2A program must be paid as their contracts require and be provided with what they need to live and work safely while contributing critical labor to California’s agriculture industry.”
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When reached by phone Thursday morning for comment, an Adam Bros. representative said none of the farms managers were available before hanging up.
Adam Bros. was previously called out by the Department of Labor for contributing to the 2018 E. coli outbreak that sickened dozens of people across 15 states.
The other Santa Maria farms fined for H-2A violations were Boavista Farms and Profresco Inc. Boavista was made to pay $43,297 in back wages and $5,361 in penalties; Profesco was ordered to pay $50,789 in back wages and $7,505 in penalties.
The Department of Labor investigated 735 cases of H-2A violations in the last two fiscal years, officials said. The investigations recovered $9,092,624 in back wages for 13,408 workers and assessed $9,520,624 in civil penalties from employers.