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District Court Grants Wage and Hour Class Certification

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Jan 29, 2018

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In a sweeping victory for a class conservatively estimated to be in excess of 14,000 farmworkers, on January 24, 2018 the District Court for the Eastern District of California in Fresno granted class certification for nine subclasses of workers who allege they were victims of wage theft committed by one of the country’s largest tree fruit growers, Fowler Packing Company, and related employer entities, located in the Central Valley. The workers, represented by lawyer teams from Bush Gottlieb and Martinez, Aguilasocho & Lynch (with offices in Bakersfield, California) alleged that they were not appropriately paid for rest and meal breaks, were working off the clock and were not paid for travel time between worksites, were not paid for costs of tools and vehicles used for work, were not paid waiting time, and were not provided with accurate payroll records. In a 62-page decision, the Court agreed with the plaintiff workers that they should be permitted to proceed with these claims on a class basis, rather than as individual plaintiffs. The liability for these violations goes back to the year 2011, and continues to the present. “We are pleased with the Court’s ruling”, said Mario Martinez, one of the lead lawyers litigating the case. “The court vindicated our position and rejected the defense’s many attempts to impede the cheated farmworkers’ rights to gain a full measure of economic justice, striking back against the many means by which this powerful grower tried to gain unwarranted profit from the hard work of the employees. We look forward to moving toward a fair resolution on a class basis, either through settlement or trial.”

The Bush Gottlieb lawyers working on the case and the class certification motion were Ira L. Gottlieb, Erica Deutsch and Dexter Rappleye.