Labor Dept. contests decision to toss settlements

3/4/2014 10:30 PM
By Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Labor Department is contesting a federal magistrate judge's decision to overturn so-called "hot goods" settlements between Oregon farmers and the labor agency.

The Capital Press reports ( ) that the Labor Department contends U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin accepted "unsupported allegations at face value" from the farmers when he ruled the deals should be revoked. The agency claims the judge disregarded credible evidence it presented.

Coffin ruled in January that the consent decrees were invalid because the farmers signed them under economic duress.

The issue dates back to August 2012, when the Labor Department accused three blueberry farms of violating labor law by paying less than the minimum wage.

The agency claimed the blueberries were unlawfully harvested "hot goods" that could not be shipped in interstate commerce. To avoid having their fruit spoil, the farms agreed to pay $240,000 in alleged back wages and penalties.

Two farms later argued successfully that they were coerced.


Information from: Capital Press,

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