For Maribel Hernández, falling ill with COVID-19 at a Louisiana crawfish processor and losing her job was terrible enough. But the Mexican guest worker was in for another shock. A federal labor investigation in 2020, initially focusing on worksite safety, revealed that the company failed to pay Hernández and 99 other guest workers a total of $138,629 in overtime earnings.
The 100 workers were deprived of pay “amid the pandemic, when food industry workers put themselves at risk to support the economy,” U.S. Labor Department officials announced in August of 2021. Officials recently told the Center for Public Integrity that 35 of the foreign workers were also owed $12,922 in sick pay required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.