Owatonna’s Bushel Boy fined nearly $200K for unpaid overtime wages

An indoor farming operation in Owatonna, Minnesota, has been ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in back wages and damages after the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) found it failed to properly compensate 94 workers for overtime.

Bushel Boy LLP, known for their greenhouse farms that produce strawberries and various tomatoes, did not pay their employees overtime wages, which violated the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act.

DLI’s investigation found that employees of Bushel Boy and Oro Valley Ag Services LLC – a farm labor contractor registered in Arizona – were not compensated for overtime hours, even though they consistently worked more than 48 hours a week between Aug. 12, 2020, to Aug. 12, 2022.

"Employers in Minnesota are legally responsible for paying agricultural workers overtime wages if they work more than 48 hours in a workweek, with limited exceptions," said DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach in a statement. "The department appreciates Bushel Boy’s willingness to quickly resolve this matter by agreeing to pay back wages and liquidated damages to the impacted employees."

Bushel Boy recently entered into a consent order with DLI and agreed to pay $97,242.84 in back-wages and an additional $97,242.84 in liquidated damages.

A $47,000 penalty toward the company will be stayed if it refrains from violating certain labor laws within three years.

Agricultural workers have been entitled to overtime wages under Minnesota law since 1974.

In July 2023, Minnesota updated a law that requires employers to provide recruited migrant agricultural workers certain written information, and 70 hours of guaranteed bi-weekly pay.