The Labor Commissioner’s Office has issued wage theft citations to a large farm labor contracting operation for failing to timely provide 1,374 seasonal farm workers their final pay.
Vista Santa Rosa Inc. did not pay discharged workers on the last day of work as required by law, and the company consistently issued final paychecks at least 72 hours late. Both client employers and their labor suppliers are accountable for workplace labor law violations in California.
An investigation was launched in August 2016 after workers reported violations of late pay to California Rural Legal Assistance, a nonprofit that provides free legal services. The investigation identified $646,875 in waiting time penalties, of which $323,729 is due to 867 affected workers in 2016, and $323,145 is due to 864 workers in 2017.
Vista Santa Rosa Inc. hires and provides farm workers to growers in the Coachella Valley region. In 2016, Vista was a sole-proprietorship owned and operated by Jose Luis Gomez Jr. In 2017 Gomez began doing business as Vista Santa Rosa Inc. Both Gomez and his successor company Vista share joint and several liability for the $646,875 in waiting time penalties.
California Labor Code section 2810.3 holds client employers – those that obtain or are provided workers from a subcontractor – responsible for their subcontractor’s workplace violations. Client employers also liable for Vista’s violations include:
— Brighton Distributing, Inc.
— Alexandra Dates, Inc.
— Coachella Valley Ranch Development, Inc.
— MICA, LLC
— The Wildwood Group, Inc.
— East-West Unlimited, LLC
— Anthony Vineyards, Inc.
— Sun World International, LLC
If a worker quits, final wages are due within 72 hours of the notice. Waiting time penalties are imposed when the employer intentionally fails to pay all wages due to the employee at the time of separation. This penalty is calculated by taking the employee’s daily rate of pay and multiplying it by the number of days the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days.
Enforcement investigations typically include a payroll audit of the previous three years to determine minimum wage, overtime and other labor law violations, and any payments owed and penalties due are calculated.