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Criminal Resource Manual

2026. Enforcement

Criminal penalties for willful and knowing violations of the Act or any regulation under the Act, are available under 29 U.S.C. § 1851. The penalty for a first offense is a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. A conviction for a subsequent violation carries a penalty of a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment for up to three years, or both. The penalty for knowing recruitment or employment of illegal aliens by a farm labor contractor who has been refused issuance or renewal of a certificate of registration, or has failed to obtain one, is a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment for not more than three years, or both.

The Act also provides for enforcement by means of actions for injunctive relief brought by the Solicitor of Labor, 29 U.S.C. § 1852, administrative civil money penalties, 29 U.S.C. § 1853, and private civil actions by persons aggrieved by a violation, 29 U.S.C. § 1854. Most violations are handled by the Department of Labor by imposing monetary penalties or seeking injunctive relief. According to the Department of Labor, the regional offices of the Department of Labor investigate alleged or apparent criminal violations of the Act. After review by the Regional Solicitors' offices the cases are forwarded directly to the office of the appropriate United States Attorney. The Department of Labor has advised that it forwards only cases involving habitual violators, such as those who have been previously warned, civilly fined, enjoined, or criminally prosecuted, and cases involving undocumented workers.