Jun 9, 2016
Workers sue Michigan blueberry farm

Migrant Legal Aid and Willenson Law, a Chicago law firm, have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of migrant and seasonal farm workers against Fennville, Michigan, grower Blue Star Farms and its owner Anthony Marr.

The lawsuit, filed in the federal Western District of Michigan court, focuses on the wages and housing of more than 100 blueberry pickers. It alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and Michigan minimum wage law. The claims center on workers making less than the minimum wage, lacking access to proper field sanitation facilities and living in overcrowded housing conditions, according to Migrant Legal Aid.

The nonprofit organization estimates that about 140 workers were employed at the time, and were paid on a piece-rate basis for each pound of blueberries picked. A piece-rate basis is permissible under Michigan law, but an employer needs to track each employee’s hours and ensure the worker is making at least the minimum wage, according to Migrant Legal Aid.

The case has been assigned to Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker.


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