Worker Justice Center of New York Files Class Action for Farmworkers Denied Lawful Wages and Safe Housing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
John Marsella, Esq. 585-325-3050 ext. 2002
Robert McCreanor, Esq. 845-331-6615 ext. 1007
Rochester, NY - On August 8, 2018, the Worker Justice Center of New York filed a complaint in U.S. District Court seeking class action status on behalf of former employees of A.J. Piedimonte Agricultural Development, LLC and related companies owned and operated by Anthony Piedimonte in Orleans County, New York. Since at least 2012, the Piedimonte business, a large-scale agricultural and produce packing, storage and distribution enterprise, has flagrantly violated the rights of hundreds of its migrant and seasonal workers, failing to pay them even the required minimum wage under federal and state law and uniformly denying overtime pay to workers who labored sometimes more than seventy hours in a week. At the same time, Piedimonte has increasingly sought to import foreign laborers under the federal H-2A foreign guestworker program, replacing local and domestic U.S. workers with temporary visa-holders whose presence, mobility and activities are tightly controlled by Piedimonte.
This case is brought by seven former Piedimonte employees who seek relief for themselves and their hundreds of co-workers who labored under grueling conditions, planting, picking, chopping and processing fruits and vegetables, often starting at six o’clock am and working until late in the evening. In many instances, the workers were housed by Piedimonte in overcrowded and unsafe conditions. In one season, seventeen adults and children were housed in a single-family house with two rooms and one bathroom. The lawsuit alleges that Piedimonte’s treatment of its workers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the federal H-2A regulations and New York Labor Law.
The Plaintiffs in this case are represented by the Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY). WJCNY Staff Attorney John Marsella and WJCNY Legal Director Robert McCreanor serve as attorneys of record in the litigation and are assisted by WJCNY Paralegal Ken Wolkin and WJCNY Worker Rights Advocate Irene Sanchez. WJCNY is a non-profit organization that pursues justice for those denied human rights with a focus on agricultural and other low wage workers, through legal representation, community empowerment and advocacy for institutional change. WJCNY’s Litigation Program builds on decades of success in achieving justice for victims of wage theft and other workplace abuses throughout New York State. Our offices have represented thousands of low-wage workers across industries such as agriculture, construction, food and service, and domestic work and recovered over $10 million in unpaid wages on behalf of our clients.