Farm workers file lawsuit against Abel Maldonado

July 18, 2015

Abel-Maldonado 4Several farm workers filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday that says former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and his family failed to pay overtime wages, reimbursed for expenses and provided meal and rest periods to their employees. [Tribune]

San Luis Obispo attorney Allen Hutkin filed the suit on behalf of two plaintiffs and more than 100 other past and present employees of Agro-Jal Farming Enterprises, which operates in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. The suit focuses on the past four years, though it claims the violations have occurred for much longer.

According to the lawsuit, the Maldonados worked their employees 13-hour days six days a week and six-hour days on the seventh day without paying them overtime wages. The law requires employers to pay agricultural workers overtime for more than 10 hours a day during the first six days of a week and anything over eight hours on the seventh work day.

While running for Congress, amid allegations that Agro-Jal owed more than $100,000 in taxes, Maldonado said he parted ways with the business in 2012.

Since the 1990s, Agro-Jal has accumulated dozens of Cal/OSHA violations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines while Maldonado served as the farm’s controller.

In early 2011, Maldonado’s family business was cited for allowing farm equipment to work the fields with no driver at the wheel. In 2010, Cal/OSHA cited Agro-Jal four times for running unmanned tractors and for failing to provide adequate access to shade or water for employees.

On Nov. 4, 2011, inspectors lodged two complaints against Agro-Jal for not operating under mandated safe work practices and for failing to report employee injuries. More than 600 employees were exposed to harm because of the farm’s operational deficiencies, according to Cal/OSHA.

The Nov. 2011 inspection resulted in fines of $23,000.

As a legislator, Maldonado voted against several bills that would have set standards for controlling the risks of heat-related illnesses, and others regarding mandated meal and rest periods for employees who work outside.

Maldonado’s father came to California from Mexico in the early 1960s. Abel Maldonado grew up working on the farm with his family.

During his campaign for Congress, Maldonado frequently touted his business savvy and work ethics learned while working to build up his family’s business — which now includes more than 6,000 acres.



  1. Downtown Bob says:

    As much as I dislike Able, the verbage used “allowed unmanned tractors to operate” sounds really scary right? The truth of the matter is that for years, the tractor driver could earn extra money by picking once he started the tractor down the row, at half walking pace, then jump off pick until the end of the row. Who wants to drive in a straight line, very slowly, instead of maximizing their time and money. It is called personal responsibility and now government tells people they CANT do what is fairly safe.

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  2. Russ J says:

    Abe is anything but a Republican – that’s why all us conservatives can’t stand him. He’s a liar and a hypocrite and so I guess that fits the model of a Republican or a Democrat. Most Republicans support open borders because it fits their constituent’s business model, they just won’t say it. Why do you think Trump resonates with conservatives? He’s the only one that calls out the established media circus for ignoring the damaging affects of open borders. The foreign national workers are just cheap illegal labor that are an many cases abused. I blame not one field worker for getting here and doing quite well. The large businesses (and small ones) who illegally employ these foreign nationals enjoy cheap subsidized labor on our dime. The ones who get the shaft are the middle class, blue collar worker. The negative economical impacts are depressed wages, increased medical cost, increased educational costs, etc, etc.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
    • zaphod says:

      …and the Pope is not Catholic…

      Abel O. Maldonado, Jr. is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the 48th Lieutenant Governor of California from 2010 to 2011.

      Trump : stingy short sighted stupid and mean,
      small wonder he resonates with ‘us conservatives’ eh.

      (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
      • Russ J says:

        Just cause you say it – it’s so? – yea O.K. Trump is so stupid he’s worth a gazzilion dollars. So mean he promotes SO many charities. Why don’t you idiot rah rah politicos talk about the Balogna family or Jamil Shah Jr. or Kathryn Steinle who are all victims of felons that were shielded by sanctuary cities and their idiotic, politically STUPID ideology. Nothing has been done or changed to protect the public form these felons since the Balogna family or Jamil Shah Jr. murders have occurred. SO here ya go APHOD; Liberal San Francisco/L.A. and people like you: stingy short sighted stupid and mean. Sincerely, the families who’s loved ones were murdered by protected felon foreign nationals.

        (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  3. itsnotok says:

    I wonder if Mr. Maldonado uses e-verify to check those I-9 Documents his workers provide him. Someone should ask Agro Jal if using e-verify is part of their standard business practice. That will tell you a whole lot about his labor force. It will also tell you a great deal more about Mr Maldonado’s commitment to using workers who have a legal right to work in the United States. This “investigative” web sight should start asking those probing questions don’t you think?

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  4. Jorge Estrada says:

    Maybe we should just pay more for the produce we need and pay the field workers like employees. We pay for junk food as in Europe, Americans are the fat people.

    (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down

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