Oregon's Farm Bureau has filed a civil suit in federal court, claiming the U.S. Department of Labor failed to provide due process to blueberry farmers in a dispute over wages and workers.
The Labor Department accused three farms of irregularities in their work records. The Labor Department alleged employees weren't paid according to minimum wage rules.
The Department subsequently threatened to use what's known as a "hot goods" objection, which led customers to back off receiving the farmers' goods. The threat of that enforcement led the farmers to sign a consent agreement.
The Farm Bureau's Dave Dillon says the producers want information about how the Labor Department reached its conclusions.
"The two farmers that are OFB members had no prior violations in the past. we started asking the Department of Labor, 'How you decided using 'hot goods' was appropriate?' We've got no answers."
The Department of Labor had no immediate comment.
Advocates for farmworkers' rights say they've been aware of alleged violations among blueberry growers for some time, and that the Department was within its rights to investigate.
The lawsuit asks that the Department of Labor turn over relevant records, waive fees, and pay the Farm Bureau's court costs.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.