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The Region | IN BRIEF / SANTA PAULA

Labor Contractor Sued Over Farm Worker Pay

September 25, 2002|From Times wire reports

A farm worker suit was filed Tuesday against a Santa Paula labor contractor, alleging that he failed to fully pay foreign workers brought to Ventura County earlier this year under a controversial federal program designed to offset labor shortages.

In what was believed to be the first large-scale use of the guest- worker program in California agriculture, labor broker Ralph De Leon received permission from the federal government to recruit 38 Mexican laborers.

They were hired to pick lemons from February to April.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 10 of those laborers in Ventura County Superior Court.

It accuses De Leon of failing to compensate workers for the hours spent traveling to and from jobs and for the time spent waiting at those locations to begin harvesting, as required by state law.

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