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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Suit seeks $1.6 million for unpaid wages owed to farm workers

The California Labor Commissioner filed a lawsuit against a Greenfield farm labor contractor this month, seeking $1.6 million for wage and hour violations. The lawsuit claims that approximately 150 farm workers at 10 or more locations in and around Monterey County are owed $1.26 million in unpaid wages and overtime. The suit also seeks monetary penalties against the employer.

The lawsuit stems from a complaint that workers were denied overtime after spending more than 10 hours a day in the fields harvesting lettuce and grapes. After the workers came forward, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement investigated the alleged unlawful working conditions and found evidence that the employer willfully failed to pay overtime to its employees. The alleged violations occurred during a three year period ending in April.

The lawsuit also seeks an injunction against the employer to prevent further violations of the wage and hour laws. The Labor Commissioner says enforcement actions of this nature are an important tool to protect workers' rights, deter illegal conduct by other employers and level the playing field so law-abiding employers can thrive in the state.

California law requires that workers be paid overtime after working eight hours in one day or 40 hours total in one week. This law applies to most employees with just a few exceptions for workers whose jobs are exempt from the overtime requirements. An experienced overtime dispute attorney can help you understand and protect your rights if you are forced to work off the clock without pay or are paid straight wages for overtime work.

Source: Fox News Latino, "California contractor sued for $1.2 mn in back pay," Oct. 17, 2012

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