DELANO, Calif. -
A business in Kern County has made a statement after a judge found the Central California grower responsible for labor contractor's violations in a case involving several thousand workers.
In response to a Federal Court judge ruling last week, Delano Farms has issued the following statement:
“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling in the litigation against Delano Farms. We maintain Delano Farms should not be party to this action since the plaintiffs are employees of our contractor, an independent business that retains full control over its operations and its relationship with its employees. The court’s ruling means only that Delano Farms will continue to be a party to the litigation. The plaintiffs have not established that any wage-and-hour violations actually occurred.
“For more than nineteen years, Delano Farms has been committed to producing high-quality table grapes in the Central Valley. We value the workers who help to bring our outstanding products to the marketplace.”
A Sacramento Federal Court judge ruled last week that table grape grower Delano Farms Company, is a joint employer in a case involving about 26,000 farm workers.
The ruling makes the Washington-based grower - a subsidiary of Anderson & Middleton - responsible for wage and hour violations committed by the labor contractors it hired to oversee grape production work at its farms in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
According to the class action lawsuit, the labor contractors hired by Delano Farms required farm workers to perform work before the fixed starting time and after the fixed ending time without pay; take picking trays home to wash without pay; and pay for necessary tools and equipment.
The judge rejected arguments by Delano Farms that it was not the direct employer and therefore not responsible for damages of these wage and hour violations.
The case involves thousands of farm workers employed from 2005 to present.
"The ruling is a huge victory not only for the farm workers involved in the Delano Farms class action, but for all farm workers, especially those who are currently fighting their cases against numerous grape growers in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, such as Giumarra and Sunview vineyards, for similar wage and hour violations," said Mario Martinez, counsel for Plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Some of the lawyers representing the class also represent other table grape workers in similar lawsuits throughout the San Joaquin Valley.
Plaintiffs' lawyers are pushing for the Delano Farms case to go to a damages trial in the late Spring to determine how much money is owed to both former and current employees for Delano Farms' violations.