ArchiveAgency: Department of Labor
Title: Farm Labor Appeals Board Pilot
The southern New Jersey District Office of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor is located in an area where large numbers of migrant agricultural workers are employed on a seasonal basis to hand-pick crops. Under the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (MSPA), Wage and Hour is responsible for ensuring minimum working conditions for these workers. In many cases where violations of the law occur, Investigators assess monetary penalties against farmers. Frequently the farmers file an appeal to the assessment, as is their right under MSPA. The appeals process would often take years before the Regional Solicitor of Labor settled the case or a judge decided the final outcome.
Under the old system, a farmer's appeal was sent to the Regional Solicitor of Labor for review and action. This process was very lengthy and consumed considerable time and resources of the District Office and Regional Solicitor of Labor staff.
For the 1993 agricultural season, a District Office MSPA strategic planning team addressed the MSPA appeals process. The team decided to create a "Farm Labor Assessment Appeals Board" consisting of a Regional Office representative, a District Office manager, and a representative from the New Jersey Farm Bureau. While the Board is not vested with the formal authority to decide the outcome of a case, it can make recommendations for settlement to Wage and Hour regional officials. Where the farmer shows a willingness to discuss the assessment, the Board provides a quick and fair alternative to the more formal process. Farmers are invited to state their case before the Board. The Board makes a recommendation for an administrative settlement or forwarding to the RSOL.
As an outgrowth of its involvement, the Farm Bureau has become more active in discussing MSPA compliance with its members and in distributing educational materials to members.
The pilot has been shared at a Wage and Hour Monthly Quality Council best practices teleconference.
Main NPR Category: Customer Service
Related NPR Categories: Less Red Tape