Employees are entitled to earn a fair wage for the hours they spend working. In fact, it is against U.S. labor laws to pay employees less than the minimum wage standard. This means that workers in California are protected by minimum wage laws no matter what industry they are employed in, and this includes the agriculture industry.
This is what the California Labor commissioner wants to make clear in a recent $1.6 million lawsuit filed against a farm labor contractor.
At the heart of the lawsuit is that this employer violated labor laws by failing to provide minimum wages and overtime pay to approximately 150 farm workers employed at more than 10 different locations throughout California. The farm laborers were hired to pick lettuce and work in grape fields for ten hours per day. They never received overtime pay.
In this case, the farm workers came forward complaining about the illegal working conditions and as a result an investigation was initiated by the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
According to the results of the in-depth investigation, this employer failed to pay proper wages during a three-year period including up to this past April. These results led to the recent lawsuit filing.
This type of lawsuit can serve to protect employee rights, as well as to send the message to other employers throughout California that labor laws will be strictly enforced.
If this lawsuit against this agriculture employer has a successful outcome for the employees, not only will the employees' rights be vindicated, but it will also serve to protect other honest businesses in California.
Source: heraldonline.com, "California Labor Commissioner files $1.6 million suit seeking unpaid wages for ag workers," Oct. 16, 2012