PATTERSON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor launched an investigation into the Berkshire Nursery & Supply Corp and its president, Jesus Flores. Flores had allegedly harassed and intimidated employees repeatedly and threatened physical harm, deportation, and blacklisting.
The department also learned that Flores had instructed employees to lie and provide false information to division investigators. In response, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued a temporary restraining order against Flores and the business.
The court’s order forbids Flores and Berkshire Nursery & Supply Corp. from:
- Violating the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provisions.
- Harming and threatening harm, termination, blacklisting of future employment; contacting immigration authorities or other law enforcement; withholding wages or reducing hours; intimidating, coercing, threatening or retaliating or discriminating against their employees in any other way to prevent or dissuade them from participating in the department’s investigation or in any other FLSA-protected activity.
- Obstructing and interfering, in any way, with the division’s investigation.
- Telling any workers not to cooperate with investigators, instructing them to provide incomplete or false information, or questioning them about their cooperation or communications with investigators.
- Communicating with any employee regarding the investigation without first informing the employee that they may communicate with investigators voluntarily and free from coercion and not be discriminated against for doing so.
“The threats by Berkshire Nursery & Supply Corp. and its president to intimidate workers and obstruct the department’s investigation are illegal and reprehensible,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.” Federal law protects workers’ rights to participate in an investigation without fear of threats to them and their families or other forms of reprisal.”