The California Labor Commission reached a settlement in April 2023 over wage theft involving more than 300 workers at five Los Angeles-area poultry plants that underpaid their employees. The citations make the owners liable for owed wages, damages and penalties, along with workers’ compensation violations.
All workers must receive at least the minimum wage
The settlement resolves litigation following a 2021 decision that upheld the wage and hour law citations against the three client employer companies and their owner. The law indicates that employers must at least pay the minimum wage for each hour worked and compensate for rest periods. The workers affected by the citation earned money by the piece to debone chicken legs at facilities in Los Angeles and La Puente. Violations included not having paid rest breaks, no prompt payment for overtime and no compensation for the time required when waiting for shipments to arrive. These conditions resulted in some workers earning less than minimum wage. Additionally, these poultry processors did not maintain workers’ compensation coverage.
The hearing officer found that workers could receive $901,032 in unpaid wages, damages and interest as follows:
- $68,400 for minimum wage violations
- $213,118 in liquidated damages and interest
- $236,370 for rest period violations
- $5,864 for overtime violations
- $377,280 for waiting time penalties
The ruling also assessed civil penalties for wages and workers’ compensation violations.
Resolving employment law disputes
Violations of employment law can take many different forms. The law is clear regarding required meal breaks, rest breaks, and similar issues. Misclassifying employees as contract workers frequently results in employees not receiving the benefits or compensation they deserve. Employers have legal responsibilities to their workers and could become liable if they violate those laws.
Employment disputes not only involve hourly workers but can also involve salaried workers. Other common problems include stock options, various types of discrimination, sexual harassment, and more. Disputes frequently progress to labor board hearings before employees file lawsuits. Resolving employment problems before they reach court is often the best course of action for both sides.