A Central Washington farm that grows tree fruit and wine grapes has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit related to its use of H-2A workers.
Mercer Canyons, located south of Prosser, Washington, was sued in U.S. District Court by two domestic employees for failing to inform them of higher-wage vineyard jobs — paying $12 per hour — filled by H-2A workers. One of the primary rules of hiring foreign guest workers with H-2A visas is proving that no domestic workers were available first.
The incident happened in 2013 and the workers, represented by Columbia Legal Services, sued in 2014. In 2015, a federal judge certified the lawsuit for class action for up to 600 domestic workers and a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit upheld that approval.
The District Court gave preliminary approval March 7, 2017, for the settlement. Workers have until June 30 to file a claim.