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Mandated Travel Pay Lawsuits Threatens California Agriculture

Throughout California, many ag employers provide buses and vans to transport ag workers voluntarily to and from the fields. Voluntary company-provided transportation makes sense for both ag employers and workers alike.

Now, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) is filing lawsuits throughout California challenging the use of company-provided buses, cars, and shuttles as a means of a voluntary transportation option for ag workers. CRLA is aiming for a favorable judgment in any of their lawsuits to create new compensation requirements for both domestic and H-2A workers who utilize free and voluntary employer-provided shuttles. If successful, CRLA would force new compensation rules that would create a huge economic burden for all ag employers and would incentivize all ag workers across the state to demand compensation for travel time. Travel pay on top of overtime rules and other regulations will create extraordinary and unsustainable pressure on the agricultural industry.

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pending lawsuits

There are pending lawsuits that focus on both H-2A and domestic workers, targeting both farm labor contractors and growers, that could lead to a new precedent for mandated travel pay. The California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and farm labor activists are now seeking compensation for any time workers spend traveling in company shuttles between home and worksites as part of their work day.

This is a real threat for all agricultural employers—it will increase employer liability, require a significant increase in compensation, impact meals, breaks and overtime while decreasing employee production, just as new overtime requirements and a minimum wage increase are about to be enacted.

It is critical that ag employers come together now to defend the industry from unfair new cost burdens, and preserve existing voluntary transportation arrangements.

  • CRLA is aiming to create these travel time compensation requirements for both domestic and H-2A workers who utilize free and voluntary employer-provided shuttles.
  • If successful, CRLA would force new compensation rules that would create a huge economic burden and would incentivize all ag workers – both H-2A and domestic – across the state to demand compensation for travel time.
  • Travel pay on top of overtime rules and other regulations are creating extraordinary and unsustainable pressure on the agricultural industry.
  • Existing case law such as Morillion v. Royal Packing Company is being misrepresented by CRLA to obtain a favorable ruling or settlement and essentially force all farm labor contractors and growers to pay for any time spent in employer-provided transportation.

Many legal experts consider these two lawsuits the biggest wage and hour cases in California. Either unfavorable case law or even settlements that create informal precedents could essentially force FLCs or growers to pay for any time spent in employer-provided transportation. For ag employers that do not offer bus or van transportation, they will likely lose their crews to employers who do provide transportation.


News and Announcements

  • Dec 6, 2018

    FOOTHILL PACKING REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH CRLA ON MANDATED TRAVEL PAY LAWSUIT

    Foothill Packing, one of the largest labor providers to the agricultural industry in the western United States, announced today that it has settled a lawsuit brought on by the CRLA challenging the voluntary nature of employer-provided transportation. Foothill Packing provided free optional transportation from workers housing or designated pickup points on buses and vans to worksites. Under the settlement, Foothill Packing will not be required to pay for the transportation time of employees to and from work.

    Read Full Press Release

  • Nov 12, 2018

    FRESH HARVEST REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH CRLA ON MANDATED TRAVEL PAY LAWSUIT

    Fresh Harvest Inc., the premier labor provider, staffing and harvesting company to the agricultural industry in the western United States, announced today that it has settled a lawsuit brought on by the CRLA to prevent the farm labor contractor from providing ag workers with voluntary transportation on company provided-buses and vans. Under the settlement, Fresh Harvest will not be required to pay for the transportation time of employees to and from work.

    Read Full Article Press Release

  • Sept 13, 2018 Ag Net West

    Lawsuits Seeking Mandatory Travel Pay for Ag Workers

    A group of lawsuits that have been filed recently is looking to require mandatory travel pay for agricultural workers who use employer transportation. California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) is seeking compensation for any time that workers spend traveling between work and home while in transportation provided by employers. In response to the lawsuits, the California Farmers for Fairness (CFF) group was formed to organize opposition to the concept of mandatory travel pay.

    Read Full Article & Listen to Interview

  • Sept 12, 2018 AgAlert

    Mandatory travel pay could result from lawsuits

    A series of lawsuits aimed at farmers and farm labor contractors allege that farm employees who travel to and from agricultural jobs in company buses should be paid for their time in transit—despite company policies making clear use of the buses is voluntary.

    The suits, filed in Monterey and San Diego counties by California Rural Legal Assistance, charge that the employees are actually required to use the buses to get to the fields.

    Read Full Article

  • August 21, 2018

    The Economic Impact of Mandated Travel Pay

    Currently, any employer using H - 2A workers must provide company - provided transportation to their workers on a voluntary basis. Lawsuits have been filed seeking legal judgments to redefine voluntary employer - provided transportation as "forced transportation" so that compensation would be mandatory for any time workers spend traveling on company - provided shuttles as part of their work day.

    View Presentation

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