- Written by Susannah L. Ashton, Esq.
Troubling news for growers out of Florida: a federal court judge held on May 29, 2015 that growers have joint liability for a farm labor contractor’s (“FLC”) wage and hour violations.
In Garcia-Celestino, et al. v. Consolidated Citrus LP, the FLC Ruiz Harvesting (“Ruiz”) sponsored a group of H-2A workers from Mexico to be furnished to Consolidated Citrus. The H-2A workers incurred extensive personal expenses in order to get to Consolidated Citrus’ worksites in Florida, including paying for their own travel, lodging, food, and Visa applications. The workers were not reimbursed for any of these expenses.
While working in Florida, the H-2A workers were compensated on a piece rate basis that regularly fell below the Adverse Effect Wage Rate and they were required to “pay back” certain earnings to the Company. The H-2A workers incurred further expenses for travel, food, and lodging when their contract was over and they traveled home to Mexico.
In order to determine whether a grower is liable for the wage and hour violations of an FLC, courts will consider the totality of the circumstances. Most often joint liability is found where the grower and FLC share control of the employees or because one entity controls the other. Another indicator of joint liability is whether the employees are economically dependent on both the grower and FLC.
- Written by Carl Larson
Lawmakers are rushing to the aid of the new sick leave law known as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (The Act). Some poorly written provisions have employers experiencing symptoms of confusion and disorientation. The Act takes effect July 1, 2015, and employers are hoping the amendments proposed in AB 304 arrive in time. A flurry of activity on the bill in early June saw the bill ordered to a third reading on the assembly floor and tagged as urgency legislation in its fifth version. However, that tag requires the bill to pass with a 2/3 majority vote in both houses. The Senate hasn’t even weighed in on the bill yet. As of June 18, 2015, the bill has been ordered to an additional third reading following further amendments. With precious time ticking away to save the patient, The Act’s effective date may end up being pushed back (as happened in Massachusetts).
The biggest headaches stem from The Act’s required accrual rate for paid sick leave (PSL). The law as currently written requires employers to track sick leave by each 30 hour period worked by an employee. Many employers accrue PSL on a per-pay period basis as opposed to an hourly basis. The amendments will allow an employer to use any accrual basis it chooses so long as the accrual period is regular (each week or each pay period) and will result in at least 24 hours of sick time accrual by the 120th calendar day of employment.