August 30, 2017

Judge Rules In Favor of Dairy Workers

 |  By: Mike Opperman

A $600,000 lawsuit filed by nearly 300 dairy farm workers was granted preliminary approval by a Yakima County, Washington Superior Court judge, according to a report in the Yakima Herald.

The lawsuit, filed by Jose Martinez-Cuevas and Patricia Aguilar on behalf of the larger group, alleged that DeRuyter Brothers Dairy of Outlook, Wash. failed to provide adequate meal and rest breaks in addition to failing to compensate workers for time worked. The workers in the suit say they were forced to work nine to 12 hours per day, six days each week without breaks, meal periods or overtime pay.

Employees who worked for DeRuyter Brothers Dairy between December 8, 2013 and December 31, 2016 will be eligible for a share of the settlement. Payments are expected to range from $15.40 to about $15,000. The dairy involved in the suit has been sold, and new owners will not be a part of the settlement.

Another part of the lawsuit challenges the exclusion of farm workers from overtime protection. This portion of the lawsuit was not resolved by the settlement and remains active. Attorneys involved in the lawsuit say the issue likely will go before the Washington State Supreme Court.