Workers at a Whateley, Massachusetts farm are entitled to some $400,000 in back pay and damages, after working up to 90 hours a week on a weekly wage that amounted to less than the minimum wage. That’s according to a suit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor this week. The department’s investigation found that 14 workers at Chang and Sons Enterprises, located on Whateley’s River Road, deserved $200,000 in back pay, and an equal amount in damages. Ted Fitzgerald is a spokesman for the Labor Department.
“Most of these workers were working about 90 hours per week, and they were planting, harvesting, processing, packaging bean sprouts and soy beans. These workers were not paid the required wages. Instead…they were being paid a flat salary, they were averaging about $350-$425 per week for working 90 hours a week. Essentially this put them below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.”
The suit also seeks an injunction to prevent the future shipment of so-called “hot goods” by Chang & Sons. That would bar interstate shipping of produce that was harvested and processed in violation of federal minimum wage, overtime, or child labor provisions. Officials at Chang & Sons could not immediately be reached for comment.