California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su filed a $1.6 million lawsuit in Monterey County Superior Court on Tuesday against a Greenfield farm labor contractor, Salvador Zavala Chavez, dba Zavala Farms, for multiple violations including failure to provide minimum wage and overtime to roughly 150 workers covering more than 10 work locations.
The work locations are primarily in Monterey County in Northern California. The lawsuit seeks $1.26 million in unpaid wages, overtime and penalties for agricultural workers.
The stems from a complaint investigation conducted by the California Department of Industrial Relations’Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The investigation revealed evidence establishing that Zavala Farms willfully violated the law by failing to pay proper wages and overtime to its employees from April 1, 2009 to April 1, 2012, according to a statement from Su’s office.
The Zavala lawsuit will be prosecuted by the attorneys for the labor commissioner.
“These workers picked lettuce and worked in grape fields over 10 hours a day without receiving overtime pay,” Su said in a statement. “This lawsuit is but one example of our commitment to conducting in-depth, meaningful inspections to get the wages earned into workers’ pockets. When workers come forward, as these farmworkers have done, to tell us about illegal working conditions, we will take action to protect them.”
The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief to stop Zavala Farms from engaging in any future violations of the law.