Business / In Brief • Feb. 22, 2013

Coffee farmers, contractors fined

HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Labor is fining seven Big Island coffee farms and farm labor contractors $42,000 for violating labor laws.

The department said Thursday that it imposed the penalties after finding many workers who hand harvested or processed coffee cherries weren’t paid legally required wages.

The violations included paying workers below the minimum wage and failing to pay workers for all hours worked.

A farm labor contractor found to have violated child labor laws is paying the biggest fine – $16,000.

Five companies also must pay back wages totaling $63,000 to 150 employees.

The department said that the Kona Coffee Council has agreed to promote labor law compliance among its membership and has established a code of conduct.

The council represents 170 farmers, processors and others in the industry.