Wage and Hour Class Actions
For decades, MA&L attorneys have fought for farm workers’ rights by filing major wage and hour litigation to recover pay when they are cheated, by filing gender discrimination claims and lawsuits, and by bringing other suits to improve farm worker lives. Examples include:
A federal class action in which roughly 10,000 workers at Giumarra Vineyards Inc. weren’t provided meal periods in compliance with California law, didn’t get paid for meal periods and had to buy their own tools was settled for $6.1 million.
A class action lawsuit filed by agricultural grape workers at Delano Farms in California who alleged they performed unpaid off-the-clock work, they were not properly compensated for breaks, and they were not reimbursed for tool expenses was settled for $6 million.
Another suit over wage theft involving about 10,000 grape workers at Sunview Vineyards was settled for $4.5 million.
Workers’ Rights Legislation and Litigation
MA&L attorneys are at the front-lines of farm worker advocacy, representing the United Farm Workers of America (“UFW”) in all manner of venues - litigating unfair labor practice charges before the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (“ALRB”), assisting the UFW in collective bargaining negotiations and grievance arbitrations, and pushing for legislative progress at the state and federal levels. Examples include:
Battling to end in California the racist 78-year exclusion of farm workers from the national law granting virtually all other workers overtime pay after eight hours a day through AB 2757, “The Phase-in Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016,” by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.
Obtaining laws strengthening farm workers’ bargaining rights, including California’s landmark 2002 Mandatory Mediation Law letting neutral state mediators hammer out union contracts when growers won’t negotiate, plus a 2012 state law further protecting farm workers’ right to a union when growers fire or intimidate them during election campaigns.
Many farm worker lives have been saved through the nation’s first state heat rules that the UFW, together with MA&L attorneys, convinced then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue in 2005. More than 1 million California farm workers have been protected by those standards that serve as a model for other states. More effective, timely and consistent inspections of farms to enforce the heat standards resulted from settlement of lawsuits in May 2015 between the state of California, the UFW, and farm workers.
Seeking increased protections for farm workers through education and lawsuits to prevent and combat forced labor and human trafficking in agriculture. In one such case, MA&L attorneys represented the survivors of one of California’s first farm labor trafficking cases - People v. Efren Alvarez - resulting in an eight-year prison sentence for the workers’ trafficker.
Gerawan Farming, Inc. (2018) 44 ALRB No. 1 - Successfully defending the right of subcontracted farmworkers at Gerawan Farming, Inc. to be included in the bargaining unit and, therefore, granted the same employment benefits given to other workers.
Ace Tomato Co., Inc. (2016) 41 ALRB No. 7 - Obtaining $1,235,665 plus interest in make whole relief for tomato workers at Ace Tomato Company, Inc. where the employer unlawfully failed to bargaining with the exclusive bargaining representative of its agricultural employees following the labor representative’s certification.
Arnaudo Bros., LP (2015) 41 ALRB No. 3 - Fighting for wage increases and retroactive payment of unpaid wage increases for farmworkers at Arnaudo Brothers, LP and, in doing so, defeating arguments that the employer should not have to pay wages that were higher than state minimum wage.
George Amaral Ranches, Inc. (2014) 40 ALRB No. 10 - Securing back pay for wrongfully discharged farmworkers at George Amaral Ranches, Inc. where the employer created an atmosphere of fear and threatened to call law enforcement to stop workers from engaging in protected concerted activities.
P & M Vanderpoel Dairy (2014) 40 ALRB No. 8 - Securing reinstatement and make whole relief for dairy workers at P & M Vanderpoel Dairy who sought a pay raise and, in return, were wrongfully discharged and threatened with arrest, a decision that was affirmed by the California Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Tri-Fanucchi Farms (2014) 40 ALRB No. 4 - Securing make whole relief for melon and other farmworkers at Tri-Fanucchi Farms where the employer unlawfully failed to bargain with their certified bargaining representative, a decision that was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California.
Premiere Raspberries, LLC, dba Dutra Farms (2013) 39 ALRB No. 6 - Securing reinstatement and make whole relief for a raspberry worker at Premiere Raspberries who was wrongfully discharged for voicing concerns about workplace conditions.
Non-Profit Formation and Counseling
We are passionate about supporting, advocating for, and partnering with non-profits and the people behind them. For years, MA&L attorneys have provided non-profit law assistance to the farm worker movement, through superior legal and business guidance and assisting with the formation of new non-profit entities. MA&L attorneys currently provide non-profit counseling to the following entities:
The UFW Foundation. The UFW Foundation is a dynamic nonprofit organization established in 2006. The UFW Foundation’s core purpose is to empower communities to ensure human dignity. The Foundation serves over 90,000 immigrants annually through a holistic approach; providing critical services and engaging constituents in systemic change to break the cycle of poverty. UFW Foundation regional offices are safe havens that provide resources and services—such as credible immigration legal advice—and act as hubs for educational outreach and organizing. In addition, the UFW Foundation works to civically engage farmworkers and Latinos nationally in the democratic process by telling their story, voting and advocating for more equitable policies.
CIERTO. CIERTO is a certified farm labor contractor that recruits, trains and places experienced agricultural workers from Mexico in farms in the United States. CIERTO adheres to clear, transparent recruitment practices, maintaining open and regular communication and establishing fair and respectful relationships. CIERTO is the only farm labor contractor monitored by an independent third party to ensure the integrity of the recruitment process and seeks to eliminate the fraudulent, corrupt and often dangerous practices that face many farm workers coming to work in the United States and endanger the operations of growers.