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Trabajadores Agrícolas Que Recogieron Fresas de Driscoll's en Oxnard Presentan Una Demanda Alegando Robo de Salario

Logos for MICOP, CRLA Inc., and Legal Aid At Work
Abril 17, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2023
(leer en español)

Media Contacts:

  • Alexx Campbell, Attorney, Legal Aid at Work, (415) 593-0062, acampbell@legalaidatwork.org
  • Adriana Mandujano Angel, Marketing and Communications Associate, MICOP, (805) 978-2532, adriana.mandujanoangel@mixteco.org

Farmworkers Who Picked Driscoll’s Strawberries in Oxnard File Suit Alleging Stolen Wages

VENTURA, CA (April 17, 2023) — Seventeen farmworkers filed a lawsuit today in the Ventura County Superior Court of California, alleging that they were not fully paid for picking Driscoll’s strawberries during the 2022 harvesting season.

Seventh Tree Farm, a farm labor contractor and corporation based in Oxnard, CA hired the workers to pick Driscoll’s strawberries and promised to pay workers $2.10 for each box of strawberries that they picked. However, the complaint alleges that the employers systematically undercounted the number of boxes that workers picked, resulting in widespread wage theft.

According to the lawsuit, Seventh Tree Farm also frequently required many workers to work overtime on weekends, paying them in cash or personal check but failing to pay overtime premiums required by law.  In many cases, workers were paid below the minimum wage for the hours they spent performing harvesting work.  The workers lodged complaints with managers about the failure to pay accurately, but managers refused to address the issues.
 
Fidel, one of the plaintiffs in the case who picked strawberries, explained: “When we saw the list of picked boxes, we realized that the number in the list was not the number that we had picked. We reported to the supervisors that there were boxes missing, but they never fixed the problem, and up until today, we still have not received wages for those boxes.”

Driscoll’s represents itself as the “global market leader for fresh strawberries” and controls approximately one-third of the U.S. berry market.  Driscoll’s, Inc. is named as a joint and client employer in the complaint.  The complaint also alleges claims against four of the individuals involved in causing the violations: Patricia Medina, Cindy Balderas, Omar Hermocillo, and Reyes Balderas.  

Maria, one of the workers in the case, said of the violations she suffered: “It makes me angry.  There are so many expenses in life, like childcare, food, and rent, and when employers steal wages, there’s not enough to pay for everything.”  
 
Ofelia Flores, Labor Advocacy Organizer at the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), a local organization that supports indigenous migrant communities in California’s Central Coast, said, “Unfortunately, this type of wage theft is all too common in the California agricultural industry. Wage theft is a violation of labor rights, and it is very important to exercise that right that all workers have.”

Leonardo, another one of the plaintiffs, stated: “The more workers we are, the more they listen to us. That's why we're doing this action together.  Let's stop being afraid and start finding our voice.”

The workers in this case are represented by California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) and Legal Aid at Work.  CRLA is a nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low-income residents of California’s rural communities.  Legal Aid at Work is a San Francisco-based non-profit legal services organization dedicated to strengthening and enforcing workers’ rights. Alexx Campbell, senior staff attorney at Legal Aid at Work said: “It is unacceptable that people who perform some of the hardest and most essential jobs in California are subject to wage theft.  These defendants, including industry leaders like Driscoll’s, must end this injustice.”

A press conference will be held outside the Ventura County Superior Court, 800 S Victoria Ave, Ventura, CA 93009 on April 19, 2023 at 4:00pm.

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