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With appeal pending, Utah company with polygamous-church ties agrees to start paying pecan pickers

First Published      Last Updated Apr 13 2017 10:37 pm

Courts » Back wages to be paid in installments; company plans to appeal.

A Utah company found to have used underage and unpaid pecan pickers has agreed to start repaying $200,000 in wages while it appeals to a higher court.

Paragon Contractors Corp. will pay the amount in 12 monthly installments, according to an agreement approved Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell.

The agreement cancels a hearing scheduled for Friday when Paragon was supposed to explain why it had not yet paid the $200,000.

Campbell in December ordered Paragon, which is operated by members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to repay the back wages. Paragon had been withholding the money while it appeals Campbell's ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A notice of appeal was filed Feb. 17. Arguments have not yet been scheduled.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit after CNN aired video from a 2012 pecan harvest near Hurricane showing children working in the fields. The Labor Department later found witnesses who testified that as many as 4,000 kids and adults harvested pecans with no compensation.

It was the second time Paragon was found in court to have used underage workers. Paragon's president is Brian Jessop, a member of the Hildale City Council and, the U.S. Department of Labor has said in court filings, a member of the FLDS.

In her December ruling, Campbell also ordered Paragon to comply with and pay for a special master who will inspect company business and payroll records and visit work sites to ensure Paragon is following child labor laws.


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