Back Pay Lawsuit Pt 1

Back Pay Lawsuit Pt 1

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. After the State Supreme Court’s decision to remove agricultures exemption from having to pay overtime, 24 lawsuits have been filed against Washington dairies and others claiming they owe three years of back overtime pay. Now, many worry that could spill over into the rest of agriculture.

Washington State Tree Fruit Association President Jon

DeVaney says it’s unclear how that would apply to piece rate workers …

DeVANEY … “How you would calculate that retroactively, nobody knows. How exactly the rules would be written to apply going forward, nobody knows.”

DeVaney says this just adds to the uncertainty farmers already face …

DeVANEY ... “Farmers operating on small margins try and limit as much uncertainty as they can knowing that they’re operating their business out of doors at the mercy of Mother Nature. Adding governmental and legal uncertainty on top of that is extremely burdensome.”

And then, DeVaney says this comes along …

DeVANEY … “And, when you’re going to have that potential of a huge payout if you get it wrong or if the rules change on you, that has the potential to end your family’s heritage and family business.”

Douglas County tree fruit grower, April Clayton agrees …

CLAYTON … “If this happens to my farm, we’ll go under. This will bankrupt us. The apple industry, the returns on organic apples have been depressed for the past three years. So, we really haven’t seen the returns like we did in 2016. So, I’ve talked with my fellow neighbors and farmers, and it’s going to bankrupt them as well.”

Tune in tomorrow for more.

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