July 12, 2016

Federal Judge Dismisses Piece-rate “Carve-out” Lawsuit

Last week, a federal district judge in Sacramento dismissed a lawsuit brought by Gerawan Farming, Inc. and Fowler Packing Co. challenging “safe harbor” provisions that were part of piece-rate legislation (AB 1513) passed last year. Both companies were specifically excluded from taking advantage of provisions which provide an affirmative defense from claims for uncompensated or undercompensated nonproductive time and break periods.

The United Farm Workers union (UFW) demanded the “carve-out” provisions be included in exchange for their support of the labor deal struck by the Brown Administration and the legislature. Western Growers and other organizations filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argued that in excluding Gerawan and Fowler, the deal was an act of “intentional and arbitrary legislative targeting.” Despite the public quid pro quo between the Brown administration and the UFW, the judge ruled there was no evidence that these two companies were being targeted or punished.    

The plaintiffs will appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

For more information, contact Cory Lunde at (949) 885-2264.