South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Employers of Migrant Workers Must Cover Transportation and Visa Expenses
Description Appeals court held that the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to migrant farm workers from Mexico. Hence, employers must reimburse those expenses incurred by the migrant workers that benefit the employers, such as the cost of transportation from Mexico and the costs of obtaining visas to work for the growers.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Fair Labor Standards Act; Minimum Wages; Migrant Labor
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A group of migrant farm workers from Mexico worked for various berry growers in Florida during the 1998-99 season. They sued the growers for failure to comply with the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The district court dismissed the suit, the farm workers appealed.
Decision

Reversed in part. The Immigration Reform and Control Act applies the FSLA to Mexican farm workers temporarily employed in the U.S. An employer may not deduct from employee wages the cost of facilities that primarily benefit the employer if such deductions drive wages below the minimum wage. Workers must be reimbursed during the first workweek for pre-employment expenses that primarily benefit the employer. This includes the costs of transporting farm workers from Mexico to Florida. Similarly, the farm workers’ visa costs, visa application fees, and immigration fees were primarily for the benefit of the employer and so must be reimbursed by the growers.

Citation Arriaga v. Florida Pacific Farms, L.L.C., 305 F.3d 1228 (11th Cir., 2002)

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