Three farm labor companies and growers were fined almost $2 million after labor regulators accused them of not paying farmworkers they employed in the Fresno area, state officials said Tuesday.
The California Labor Commissioner's Office said M.G. Luna Inc. of Parlier, Madera Persimmon Growers Inc. of Madera and Willems Farms Inc. of Kingsburg face $1,926,531 in fines after failing to pay 356 workers who harvested blueberries and persimmons, regulators said in a news release, according to Fresno Bee.
Wages were collected from growers to M.G. Luna but pay was not given to laborers, said the commission. No pay was given at all for some while some had their checks bounced.
Regulators began their investigation in September 2019 after a referral from California Rural Legal Assistance, the commission said.
Luna Inc. faces the largest portion of the fines, which totaled more than $1.4 million, officials said. That company's business license has been suspended, according to records from the Secretary of State.
Willems Farms Inc. was fined more than $410,000.
These fines were also derived for minimum wage violations and interest payments, the commission mentioned.
In the agricultural industry, growers are responsible for ensuring their contractors pay the workers, according to Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower.
“In this case, the growers who contracted with M.G. Luna will pay the owed wages to workers,” she said in a news release. “To avoid liability as client employers, growers have an obligation to ensure that the (farm labor companies) they hire are licensed, in good standing and paying legal wages.”