CA: Apio Settles Worker Lawsuit for $5.9M

08.30.2017


By Liz Carey

Guadalupe, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – A food packaging company and its labor broker have agreed to pay nearly $6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 100 current and former employees.

Apio, a division of Landec, and its labor contractor Pacific Harvest, will pay $5.9 million to nearly 2,000 employees the lawsuit alleges the companies failed to pay for full shifts. Hector Martinez, the plaintiff’s Oakland-based attorney, said supervisors would clock employees in when they arrived at their work stations, and then clock them out again as they moved from one work station to another. Additionally, employees were forced to “clock out” when they were dressing and undressing from protective gear provided by the Apio and Pacific Harvest, a violation of California labor laws. 

“If you do anything for the benefit of the employer, you must clock in first,” Martinez told the Santa Barbara Independent.

Landec said in a press release that the company was entering the settlement to avoid a costly trial and millions of dollars in legal fees, and that the lawsuit was the result of efforts to unionize the Guadalupe plant by the United Farm Workers for years. The settlement will be payable to all of the non-exempt employees of Apio and Pacific Harvest over the past four years. Apio and Pacific Harvest will split the settlement payout.  

“We are very pleased that these legal actions are now behind us and that we are able to settle these actions as a class rather than having to arbitrate over 100 cases individually which could have taken several years,” Landec’s COO Ron Midyett said in a press release. “To prevent Apio from being subjected to such litigation in the future, Apio has taken over all of the responsibilities of human resources for the plant employees and has established a new set of more stringent policies and procedures including monitoring payroll processing on a weekly basis.”

Greg Skinner, VP of Finance and CFO for Landec, did not immediately return phone calls for comment by press time. Hector Martinez did not immediately return phone calls for comment by press time. 

Luz Pena, communications coordinator for the United Farm Workers, said she would forward requests for comment to the appropriate person, but had not returned requests for comment through email and phone calls by press time.


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