A Rosedale farmer accused of firing gunshots and shouting obscenities at workers after they asked for food and water was ordered by federal regulators to stop retaliating against employees and stop obstructing their investigation into labor violations.
The U.S. Department of Labor filed a restraining order and injunction Thursday against Rivet and Sons LLC sugarcane and soybean farm and its owner Glynn Rivet, who allegedly denied workers food and water and shot guns near them when they asked for better conditions.
Rivet and Sons LLC is a 6,000-acre farming business with nine fields in Iberville and Pointe Coupee parishes. It hires H-2A employees, foreign agricultural workers on special visas who plant by hand, manage water systems and remove weeds.
Three of the workers threatened by Rivet left the farm “in fear for their safety,” the DOL said in a press release Thursday.
The department called Rivet’s behavior “egregious and threatening” and asked Louisiana court to forbid Rivet from carrying a firearm within 5,000 feet of any current, former or prospective agricultural worker. The order would stop him from communicating to workers within 1,500 feet and entering the property where they live.
DOL also filed a preliminary injunction in Louisiana court to stop the farm and its associates from retaliating against current and former employees and their families. It asserted that food and water are benefits workers are entitled to.
Federal regulators asked that the farm install new locks and deadbolts or re-key locks on the doors of workers’ homes. The farm must pay the three discharged workers back pay and expenses from when those workers were unemployed due to Rivet’s retaliation, the DOL went on to say.
Additionally, the DOL is demanding that Rivet and Sons provide water, toilets and sinks to workers and inform them of their rights as H-2A employees.
“The U.S. Department of Labor enforces laws that protect workers from abusive and unsafe workplaces,” DOL Southwest Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Betty Campbell said. “Agricultural workers perform essential jobs to help feed U.S. consumers and support the nation’s economy. They deserve better.”
Rivet did not return calls for comment.