Feds: Lodi grape grower shortchanged Sonoma County workers

A Lodi-based grape grower shortchanged 14 workers at its Sonoma County vineyards by nearly $55,000, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

Vino Farms gave preferential treatment and provided more hours and better wages to temporary** agricultural workers over the 14 American workers, the agency reported.

Penalties of $21,257 was filed against Vino Farms.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers from outside the United States can legally receive temporary access into the country to do agricultural work if an employer files a request showing, among other things, there aren’t enough American workers to do what needs to be done.

Employment of visa holders cannot affect the wages and working conditions of American workers, according to the Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division District investigated 735 reports of violations over the past two fiscal years and recovered more than $9 million in back wages for at least 13,000 workers.

**Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect that the Department of Labor penalized Vino Farms for showing preferential treatment to temporary agricultural workers.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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