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Connecticut Department of Labor Fines Labor Recruiters for Hillandale Farms

12/12/2019

According to a detailed report by Stephen Singer in the Hartford Courant the Connecticut Department of Labor has fined two labor-recruiting companies for improper classification of foreign workers and employing minors.  Five Brothers of Sunbury, PA. was fined $80,000 and Whitmore Poultry was fined $90,000.  The two companies were providing labor to Hillandale Farms of Connecticut for their Bozrah Complex.

 

Thomas J. Wydra, director of the Department of Labor, Wage and Workplace Standards Division noted that, “Classifying workers as independent contractors results in the employer paying lower worker compensation premiums, taxes and unemployment insurance costs.”  He added, “These business practices are an unacceptable way to operate in Connecticut and is generally accepted that all workers should be provided with workplace protection and the public should not bear the cost that are the legal responsibility of employers”.

 

During an inspection of the operation on October 11th investigators determined that 34 employees of Five Brothers but effectively working for Hillandale Farms were misclassified as independent contractors.  The company was cited for 602 violations.

 

The Connecticut Department of Labor determined that 16 young workers including minors were also misclassified as independent contractors and had worked at the Bozrah location as employees of Whitmore Poultry for eight months and had been paid in cash.

According to the findings stop orders were imposed on both Whitmore Poultry and Five Brothers.

 

Using labor-providers as a means for actual employers to evade their responsibility for ensuring that workers are in fact legally eligible to work. The producers are shifting the onus to review documentation and process applicants and to make appropriate deductions for social security and other benefits.  Using subterfuges to avoid labor and eligibility laws is ultimately deleterious to the image of the egg industry and is strongly deprecated.

 

Although there is limited use of contract labor in the egg industry according to contacts, most of the workers are employed in work-crews for moving or vaccination.  Notwithstanding the use of work-crews all reputable companies insist that the employees of the contractors are subject to the E-Verify program and their employment and remuneration is consist with state and federal policy.