Vidalia onion farmer ordered to pay $1.4M in overtime suit

Published: Oct. 20, 2017 at 5:53 AM EDT
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By: Associated Press

October 20, 2017

GLENNVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- One of the largest producers of Georgia's famous Vidalia onions has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.4 million in damages and unpaid overtime owed to hundreds of workers.

A U.S. District Court judge found that Bland Farms failed to pay overtime to 460 workers during harvest seasons from 2012 through 2017. The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit in 2014 against the company, owned by farmer Delbert Bland.

The Labor Department said in a news release Thursday that Bland Farms wrongly claimed an agricultural exemption from overtime rules when paying workers for packing onions Bland bought from other farmers. Defense attorneys argued the exemption was justified.