Noland Hamerly Wins $772,000 Fee Award Against the UFW

On April 27, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills awarded Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss $772,000 in attorney fees in costs. Judge Wills had previously awarded over $1.1 million in penalties and unpaid wages against the United Farm Workers (UFW) union in the same case.

NHEH represented former UFW employee Francisco Cerritos in a class action and Private Attorney General Act lawsuit on behalf of himself and other current and former UFW employees.  The lawsuit was filed in May 2014.

In issuing the attorney fees ruling, Judge Wills stated, "the Court has not placed an amount to destroy someone, and the union does serve a socially laudable purpose, but (the union) has to follow the law; and when it doesn't do so at the expense of others and that results in drawn out, protracted and complex litigation, it cannot expect the Court to turn a blind eye to what the consequences of what that conduct are."

At the conclusion of the trial, the court ruled that Mr. Cerritos and 22 other UFW internal organizers were misclassified as “exempt” employees and not paid overtime and not given lunch breaks. Mr. Cerritos brought the class action claim because the UFW failed to give UFW employees legally compliant pay stubs. The judge awarded Mr. Cerritos $65,265 and also awarded $600,000 to the other internal organizers in overtime wages; $119,600 to the class for paystub violations; and an additional $335,625 of PAGA penalties for numerous California Labor Code violations.

The Noland Hamerly attorneys Ana Toledo, Mike Masuda and Lindsey Berg-James are pleased with the decision which will significantly benefit its client and his coworkers.

© 2017 Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss