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Expanding Justice Through Impact Litigation

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it
must be demanded by the oppressed."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The agricultural industry is plagued by some of the worst working conditions in California. The Labor & Civil Rights Litigation Unit aggressively targets the employers responsible for these conditions, representing workers in cases involving:

  • Wage theft

  • Violation of workplace safety standards

  • Sexual assault and harassment in the workplace

  • Discrimination and retaliation

  • Pesticide exposure

Unique among legal aid organizations providing free civil legal aid throughout rural California, we at CRLAF represent clients regardless of their immigration status and we bring class action cases that can help hundreds of workers at a time. 

Since CRLAF’s founding, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for exploited workers and our lawsuits have led to workplace-wide reforms.

Our legal team also participates in amicus efforts on issues of concern to farm workers, undocumented workers, and low-wage workers in general. We also serve as a designated Support Center for legal service projects funded by the California State Bar Association’s Legal Services Trust Fund.​

Past case work includes:

  • Providing advice and assistance to surviving family members of a farm worker who died of possible heat-related heart attack.

  • An amicus brief on behalf of an undocumented worker who suffered 80% loss of lung capacity due to job-related toxic exposure. The issue on appeal was whether the trial court should have declared a mistrial after telling the jury of plaintiff’s undocumented status, in the mistaken belief that it was relevant to his eligibility for a lung transplant.

  • An administrative claim on behalf strawberry workers for unpaid wages and missed meal and rest breaks. This case was settled in 2014.

  • An individual administrative claim on behalf of a farm worker fired in retaliation for complaining of pesticide violations.

  • A class action seeking damages for national origin harassment at fruit drying plant near Corning, California. An abusive supervisor routinely used ethnic slurs and threatened to call ICE to intimidate workers. The named plaintiffs were both terminated when they complained of this mistreatment. This case was settled in 2014.

  • A class action for back overtime pay, meal and rest break violations, and unreimbursed costs on behalf of over 170 dairy workers who worked up to 16 hours per day, 6 to 7 days a week, and had to pay for their own equipment. These workers received no overtime compensation and were allowed only one half-hour unpaid break per day. This case was settled in 2014.

  • An ongoing class action seeking back overtime wages, penalties for missed meal and rest breaks, and reimbursement of work-related costs for employees at nursery near San Luis Obispo, California.

  • An ongoing class action on behalf of restaurant workers in Morro Bay for unpaid overtime wages, meal and rest break violations, split shift premiums, and penalties.

  • A FLSA collective action on behalf of temporary migrant workers alleging violations of H2-A contract, wage and hour laws, and minimum housing standards. We have recovered over $600,000 in settlements in this case and continue to litigate against one remaining defendant.

  • A class action for back overtime pay and meal and rest break violations on behalf of workers at a grain and feed producer in Fresno, California.

  • Several administrative claims before the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and retaliation on behalf of farm worker women.

Please contact info @ crlaf (dot) org for copies of recent amicus briefs, sample pleadings, or advice and consultation on any case involving low-wage or immigrant workers.

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