Business & Real Estate

Grape harvest contractor ordered to pay farmworkers $163K in back wages

A contractor has been ordered to pay farmworkers more than $163,000 for violating federal minimum wage rules after a Department of Labor investigation found he failed to pay farmworkers wages for three weeks during last fall’s grape harvest at the Roederer Estate in Mendocino County.
A contractor has been ordered to pay farmworkers more than $163,000 for violating federal minimum wage rules after a Department of Labor investigation found he failed to pay farmworkers wages for three weeks during last fall’s grape harvest at the Roederer Estate in Mendocino County. Sacramento Bee file

A Northern California contractor has been ordered to pay 59 migrant farmworkers more than $163,000 for violating federal minimum wage rules.

The fine stems from a U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found that contractor Manuel Quezada of Orland had failed to pay farmworkers wages for three weeks during last fall’s grape harvest at the Roederer Estate in Mendocino County.

Quezada has provided work crews for the past 10 years at the winery. He also provides work crews for grape harvesting, pruning and other harvesting jobs in almond and walnut groves in Northern California.

Quezada was cited for several violations, including not paying employees at least biweekly or semimonthly; not providing wage statements to workers; and not disclosing employment conditions to workers.

The agency also determined Quezada violated federal minimum wage provisions which requires covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as 1 1/2 times their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week.

The payment will include $99,953 in back wages owed under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and $63,274 in back wages and damages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Roederer winery – which produces estate-bottled sparkling wines, agreed to sign an enhanced compliance agreement requiring stringent reviews of its farm labor contractors’ practices as a result of the Department of Labor fine.

Roederer owns 660 acres primarily throughout Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley and is one of the larger employers in the area.

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