The Worker Justice Center of New York has 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.
WJCNY has reached a settlement agreement in the amount of $62,283, resolving The Matter of Goodness Gardens Inc. before the National Labor Relations Board. In its filing with the New York, NY Regional Office of the NLRB, two former employees charged Goodness Gardens with interfering, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.
The charge claims Goodness Gardens terminated, disciplined, and retaliated against employees who participated in protected concerted activities to try to improve their working conditions and address job-related problems. When an employee asked Goodness Gardens for a day off to accompany her child during dental surgery, she was told to choose between her child and her job. When she questioned the fairness of the denial she was terminated on the spot. Coworkers heard of the termination and frustrations with Goodness Gardens’ management, unfair scheduling practices, and routine rejections of leave requests reached a tipping point. The workforce decided to engage in an impromptu strike. Each employee lawfully stopped their work to demand answers from management. They humbly asked for fair working conditions and for their voices to be heard. Following lengthy discussions and numerous promises from management, employees returned to work feeling optimistic. That feeling was short-lived and, soon after, Goodness Gardens terminated the employees who were most active in the concerted activity.