SEATTLE — A pair of former dairy farm workers for Washington-based DeRuyter Brothers Dairy recently filed a class action unpaid overtime lawsuit aimed not only at recouping unpaid time and a half wages but also overturning a long held state law. The challenge may seem a long shot to many but for the plaintiffs the claim is about more than money but righting a historical wrong generations of workers faced while performing grueling work for modest wages.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege they worked as long as 12 hours a day for six days a week milking thousands of cows around the clock to meet production demands. During their time on the job, the plaintiffs claim they were not given mandatory meal breaks or any other rest periods for that matter.
Under current state and federal labor laws, agricultural workers like dairy farm workers are not entitled to overtime wages, not matter how many hours these hardworking individuals put on the job providing for their families. Only four states do offer such benefits but in two of those states, Maryland and Minnesota, farm workers must work more than 40 hours per week to earn overtime.
Plaintiffs Allege Farm Worker Exemptions Have Racist Roots
According to the plaintiff’s’ unpaid overtime class action lawsuit, the nation’s overtime exemptions for agricultural workers has its roots in racist legislation aimed at denying minority workers the opportunity at social mobility. Other individuals studying the issue also allege racial discrimination, claiming the federal labor laws crafted in the 1930s did not extend overtime pay to farm workers as an intentional slight to oppress African Americans.
Additionally, the plaintiffs allege Washington’s own Minimum Wage Act was racially motivated when it was enacted in 1959. In order for the plaintiffs to recover overtime wages, they will first need to overturn Washington’s own labor laws, a tall order but one they and their attorneys feel is necessary to advance the standard of living for so many people who make their living putting food on our family’s tables.
Farm Worker Overtime Pay Lawsuits
Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe that your wage rights are being violated under the FLSA. Our top-rated team of unpaid wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action to help you seek justice.
Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.