The Seattle Times reports the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that farmworkers paid via piece rate for orchard tasks must be paid additional wages for other tasks.
The 5-4 decision says unloading equipment at the end of the workday or traveling between fields or orchards needs to be tracked and the workers need to be compensated through an hourly wage.
The decision was based on a February 2016 class-action lawsuit on behalf of two Dovex Fruit Co. workers.
The Times says Dovex attorneys suggested that as long as workers’ paychecks for piece-rate was the same as or greater than minimum wage for the hours worked, growers were in compliance. This argument was rejected in the majority opinion.
“This is a big deal. The court has rewritten the law, and we are moving to a new compensation system,” Dan Fazio, of Wafla, a farm-employers association, told The Times.