Yakima Herald Quotes Adam Belzberg on Case Before WA Supreme Court Over Pay for Breaks for Piece-rate Berry Pickers

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Partner Adam Belzberg was quoted by the Yakima Herald in an article titled “Court case could drastically change the way growers pay piece-rate workers during rest breaks.” The article discusses a case—to  be heard before the Washington State Supreme Court in March—stemming from a lawsuit in which piece-rate berry pickers sought compensation for the 10-minute rest breaks they are entitled to take every four hours. The case started in 2013 when seasonal workers sued Sakuma Brothers Farms for underpayment, keeping poor wage records and not granting paid rest breaks as required by state and federal laws.

The 2013 case was settled in June 2014, resulting in compensation for the piece-rate workers for past work but not settling the issue of whether Sakuma and other farms should pay workers separately for rest breaks in the future. The questions before the Supreme court are whether farmers have to pay the workers additional wages for their breaks, and if so, how much?

Belzberg, who represents Sakuma in the case, said that he advises all his grower clients to enforce breaks to avoid liability, though they may experience some resistance from workers who would prefer to either keep working or to leave earlier in the afternoon. “There’s some push back at first,” he said.

“Court case could drastically change the way growers pay piece-rate workers during rest breaks,” was published February 8, 2015.

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