State and federal courts in California have recently held that piece-rate employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all non-piece rate activities, including those to which the piece rate doesn't apply. This is true even when employees receive, on balance, at least minimum wage for all hours worked. While agricultural employers have generally adjusted their compensation systems to comply with the changing legal landscape, many employers are in jeopardy due to the retroactive application of these court-ordered rules.
In recent weeks, Western Growers executives have held several discussions with high-ranking members of the Brown Administration and legislators to seek relief from class action lawsuits being filed by a few trial lawyers. It is unclear at this time what form any relief might take and whether legal and political obstacles can be overcome, but we are encouraged by early discussions. Western Growers members are encouraged to immediately contact WG Vice President and General Counsel, Jason Resnick, if they are served with such a lawsuit. It is critical for the Association to have an accurate count of these lawsuits, and an ability to estimate total industry exposure, in order to effectively convey the scope of the issue to members of the legislature and the Administration.
Watch Spotlight for updates on efforts to limit this retroactive litigation exposure.
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