A father and son have both pleaded guilty to violating Idaho’s farm labor contractor licensing law after they failed to pay two of their workers last year.
Angel Alba Sr., 50, and his son, Angel Alba Jr., 20, both of Payette, entered the pleas to the misdemeanor charge before Washington County Magistrate Gregory Frates, who ordered each to pay $700 in fines and serve six months probation. Under Frates’ sentence, each man is subject to another $300 fine and up to 60 days in jail if he fails to successfully complete probation.
Deputy Washington County Prosecutor Fred Wheeler initiated the charges after an Idaho Department of Labor investigation determined that the Albas had no state license and not obtain the required farm labor contractor bond or workers’ compensation insurance, nor did they pay state, federal or Social Security taxes on the wages involved in the claims by the two workers.
The Albas must also pay $125 each for their public defender.
The case was the 10th initiated by the department under the 2003 farm labor contractor licensing law, and Frates imposed the stiffest fine yet. The maximum penalty is $1,000 in fines and 60 days in jail. The law was imposed to protect farm workers from being taken advantage of by contractors and to protect farmers from liability for workers hired under a farm labor contract. Farmers failing to deal with a licensed contractor are liable for wages and potential worker job-related injuries.
No violator has served jail time, and until this week the largest fine was $400. In two previous cases, the fines were less than the cost of the state license.
The investigation of the Albas began when two employees filed claims for unpaid wages of around $2,500. The department had been told that the Albas had been operating without a license in Idaho for several years, but the wage claims provided the concrete evidence needed to prosecute.
The Albas have paid the wages claimed by the two employees.
There are currently 43 legally licensed farm labor contractors in Idaho