H-2B Workers Sue Employer for Alleged Breach of Contract

Mississippi-based landscape company allegedly failed to pay H-2B workers minimum wage and overtime pay.

A group of H-2B seasonal guest workers from Mexico is suing their employer—Backyard Lawn LLC, dba U.S. Lawns of Northwest Mississippi—citing that the employer breached their employment contract.

According to the complaint—filed by Meliton Bolanos-Ramirez and other unnamed, similarly situated employees—the company owner, Bryant Jernigan, provided an employment contract for the plaintiffs, setting an hourly minimum wage of $11.36 per hour and an overtime rate of $17.04 per hour. The plaintiffs are now seeking to recover what they cite as unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation, in addition to damages resulting from the alleged breach in contract. Bolanos-Ramirez has also filed a claim for retaliation by Jernigan, who allegedly fired Bolanos-Ramirez when Bolanos-Ramirez complained about not getting paid for overtime.

The complaint also states that, per the contract, Jernigan was to reimburse the plaintiffs for any of the following costs incurred: transportation costs in traveling from Mexico, consulate interview fee, visa fee, and border crossing fee. Failure to reimburse these expenses has helped the plaintiffs’ hourly wage to fall below the minimum level required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the federal prevailing wage mandated by H-2B program rules. Additionally, the complaint alleges that the defendant overcharged the plaintiffs for housing.

You can access the court filing at ThinkProgress.org.