BOSS WATCH: 3/8 - 3/15
Updated On: Apr 08, 2024

By JACOB MORRISON March 18, 2024

Illegal activities of Southern Bosses for the weeks between Friday, March 8 and Friday, March 15


A Park Hills vegetable farming and packing operation will pay $479,983 in back wages to 208 workers, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

In a consent order and judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on March 12, 2024, and an H-2A settlement agreement executed on Dec. 29, 2023, Missouri Vegetable Farm LLC, and its owners Benjy Proffer and Robert Proffer, will pay Fair Labor Standards Act back wages of $394,159 to 102 H-2A temporary visa workers and 105 U.S. workers, as well as H-2A back wages of $85,824 to 22 “corresponding” U.S. workers. The company was also assessed civil money penalties of $38,289 for its H-2A violations. 

This action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found Missouri Vegetable Farm often failed to compensate workers at time and one-half the adverse effect wage rate for the specific agricultural task being performed when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The company also often failed to combine hours employees worked in both farming and packaging operations and to pay the required wage rate. The investigation reviewed pay records from May 1, 2021 through Dec. 15, 2021.

“Employers must understand the wage requirements for the workers they employ. When seeking approval to hire temporary visa workers, employers agree to specific terms for pay rates, job tasks and other compensation and must also pay non-visa employees at least the same rate,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Noah Lee in St. Louis. “The wages recovered for these workers will have a significant impact on their lives. Many of them may have not understood their rights to overtime pay.”

The H-2A temporary agricultural program allows agricultural employers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. 

Missouri Vegetable Farm LLC is part of the Proffer Company, a family-owned and operated full-line wholesale produce company that farms in Missouri and Arkansas.


The U.S. Department of Labor has cited an Atlanta chemical manufacturer with a staggering 67 serious violations and a proposed penalty of $289,439 for exposing workers to a series of workplace dangers associated with chemicals and struck-by hazards.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Southern Industrial Chemicals Inc. – operating as SIC Technologies – after conducting a safety and a health inspection. Across both, OSHA found violations for failing to: 

  • Provide feasible engineering controls to reduce employee exposures to hexavalent chromium.

  • Establish and implement a respiratory protection program and provide a medical evaluation before workers were fit-tested or required to use respirators.

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive hazard communication program for the handling and use of hazardous chemicals.

  • Provide laboratory employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals in the lab. 

  • Provide changing rooms for contaminated protective clothing to prevent cross-contamination of employees’ regular clothes. 

  • Provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.

  • Use drums and containers that meet appropriate federal regulations for the waste they contained.

  • Ensure chemical drums and pallets were stacked on storage racks in a secure manner. 

  • Provide proper training and certification of employees using powered industrial trucks. 

  • Develop and implement an energy control program, including written lockout procedures, and training for employees required to perform cleaning and maintenance involving dangerous machinery.

  • Develop and implement a permit-required, confined space program for employees required to enter tanks and vessels.

  • Guard unused portions of a bandsaw to prevent unintended contact with the saw blade.

“Southern Industrial Chemicals failed to make employee safety and health a priority. Chemical exposures can lead to incurable and life-altering conditions, so it’s vital that employers take immediate steps to recognize and mitigate life-threatening hazards like those found in this investigation,” said OSHA Atlanta-West Area Office Director Jeffery Stawowy. “Employers must evaluate and effectively control respiratory hazards in the workplace and establish a hazard communication program that meets or exceeds federal safety standards to protect workers. Our hazard communication overview provides employers with the knowledge to get this done and make their workplaces safer for all.”

Workers in the U.S. suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and approximately 50,000 deaths annually related to chemical exposures. OSHA’s website provides an overview of chemical hazards and toxic substances to provide employers and employees with tips to recognize hazards and control exposures. 

Southern Industrial Chemicals Inc. is a chemical manufacturer that compounds custom chemical products at its Atlanta facility. 
The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Walmart will pay $70,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it revoked permission from an employee with a disability to use a store electric cart as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, forcing him to take unpaid leave. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, shortly after hiring after Luis Quiñones, who uses a prosthetic leg, Walmart accommodated Quiñones by permitting him to use one of the store’s electric carts to perform some of his job duties.

Approximately seven months later, Walmart told Quiñones he was no longer able to use the cart, claiming that the store’s electric carts were for customer use only, even though other employees were permitted to use the carts to accommodate temporary injuries. The suit alleged that Walmart failed to offer an alternative reasonable accommodation that would have allowed Quiñones to continue working, and instead Walmart placed him on indefinite unpaid leave.

Such alleged conduct violated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects individuals with disabilities from workplace discrimination and requires that employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Case No. 1:22-cv-02596-JFA-TER) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Aiken Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.

In addition to paying monetary damages, Walmart also agreed to offer Quiñones a job at one of its South Carolina locations. The two-year consent decree settling the suit enjoins the company from failing to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities related to walking and standing at Store #0514 in Aiken. The decree also, with limited exceptions, enjoins Walmart from eliminating existing reasonable accommodations for such individuals without identifying an alternative that allows the employee to remain in their position except in certain circumstances. Walmart will be required to conduct annual training for salaried employees at the affected store, post an employee notice, and submit periodic compliance reports to the EEOC.

“The EEOC will aggressively pursue all appropriate avenues of make-whole relief for victims of discrimination,” said Nicholas Wolfmeyer, trial attorney for the EEOC. “This often includes advocating for an employee to be reinstated, which will be done in this case.”

EEOC Charlotte District Regional Attorney Melinda C. Dugas said, “Revoking a reasonable accommodation without providing an alternative violates the ADA. The EEOC will continue enforcement efforts to secure compliance on this issue.”

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