30 lawsuits have been filed against WA dairies over overtime pay
Nearly 30 lawsuits have been filed against Washington dairies, claiming they owe three years of back overtime pay. This comes after a state Supreme Court ruling last year, stating dairy workers are not exempt from the state’s overtime laws.
The rest of the state’s ag industry worries they are next, specifically tree fruit growers.
According to Jon Devaney with Washington state Tree Fruit Association, “Farmers operating on small margins try and limit as much uncertainty as they can knowing that they’re operating their business out of doors at the mercy of Mother Nature, adding governmental and legal uncertainty on top of that is extremely burdensome... when you’re going to have that potential of a huge payout, if you get it wrong of if the rules change on you, that has the potential to end your family’s heritage and family business.”
“If this happens to my farm, we’ll go under. This will bankrupt us,” grower April Clayton states. “The apple industry, the returns on organic apples have been depressed for the past three years. So, we really haven’t seen the returns like we did in 2016. So, I’ve talked with my fellow neighbors and farmers, and it’s going to bankrupt them as well.”
There are a pair of bills in the state legislature that could protect farmers from being required to pay workers the three years of back overtime pay.