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Thursday, January 10, 2013

California Increases Penalties for Farm Labor Violations


On Jan 1, 2013, a new law came into effect in California that allows for serious civil penalties -- fines of up to $50,000 -- to be levied against a farm labor contractor (FLC) for license violations.  The law amends Section 1683 of the California Labor Code, and provides teeth to enforcement agents.  Previously, the Labor Commissioner was restricted to referring license violation cases for criminal misdemeanor prosecution, an action rarely pursued.  Now that AB 1675 is on the books, we’ve been told that the Labor Commissioner plans to specifically target agriculture as one of three primary enforcement areas for 2013.  Its on-the-ground division, the Bureau of Field Enforcement (“BOFE”), has recently tripled the number of field agents in the Northern CA region (from 1 to 3).  BOFE officers will be going to businesses unannounced to conduct audits. 
   
Under California law, a vineyard management company is almost always considered an FLC.  Vineyard management companies must comply with California laws regulating FLCs, including registration and licensing.  Growers or owners who engage a vineyard management company/FLC have an affirmative statutory obligation to check the license and retain a copy for at least three years following the termination of services. 

For more information on the new law or assistance with other grower issues, please contact Caroline Boller at cboller@dpf-law.com   



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