A lawsuit has been filed and is seeking class action status against the owner of the two Miami farms for allegedly paying field workers less than minimum wage for picking beans in recent harvest seasons. The lawsuit claims John Torrese, owner of T-N-T Farms and Quality Kid Produce, did not pay workers on time, only partially paid workers for hours spent in the field, and did not report earnings to the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration. The lawsuit was filed under the federal Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Protection Act.
The workers were hired through labor contractors to hand pick rows of beans on Torrese's farms, a common practice in the agricultural industry. Farmers typically pay a lump sum to the contractors, who in turn hire seasonal workers for crop seasons. However, in 1996, the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that growers, not labor contractors, were the real employers of the bean pickers and must bear the burden of complying with federal wage and hour laws.