A Labor Department administrative law judge is allowing a farm labor contractor to stay in the H-2A program after finding that he did not fire U.S workers because of their race, but because they refused to work in rainy conditions.

A&M Labor Management laid off 13 U.S. citizens of Haitian origin after they didn’t show up to work picking corn at a job site in Indiana, Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen Henley found, but it wasn’t because of their race or heritage, he found, reversing a DOL Certifying Officer’s decision to debar the company from the program.

However, he did find that A&M unlawfully refused to hire a U.S. employee, and failed to file the necessary hiring paperwork that would have shown that workers who were in an accident to the job site had workers compensation insurance.

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“I find that (A&M’s) unlawful rejection of one U.S. worker in January 2019 is not a ‘substantial’ violation of the regulation and does not support employer’s debarment in this case,” Henley said. “Back wages have been ordered to make the single U.S. worker whole and there is no evidence that (A&M) has a history of otherwise rejecting qualified U.S. workers.”

He ordered A&M to pay about $22,000 in fines.

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