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Department of Labor recovers more than $450k in back wages, damages for 62 workers at Half Moon Bay farms

A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has recovered more than $450,000 in back wages and damages for 62 people employed by two Half Moon Bay mushroom farms — where a disgruntled co-worker fatally shot seven migrant workers in January 2023 — and assessed penalties after investigators found the employers underpaid workers and provided unsafe housing conditions.

The recovery is part of administrative settlements reached by the department's Wage and Hour Division with Concord Farms Inc. and California Terra Gardens for multiple violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The division opened an investigation of the farms' employment practices and compliance with federal regulations after the tragedy occurred.

At California Terra Gardens, investigators discovered 39 workers housed in cramped cargo containers, garages and dilapidated trailers, forced to sleep on filthy mattresses and be exposed to insects and trash. Xianmin Guan and his wife, Liming Zhu — the farm's owners — also deducted money from workers' pay for the substandard housing illegally, the division later determined.

Two miles away, division investigators discovered Concord Farms' owner, Grace Tung, housed workers in moldy, makeshift rooms in a greenhouse infested with insects. The division learned Tung violated federal regulations by shortchanging workers who received the regular rate of pay for all hours worked, including hours over 40 in a workweek, and who were also not paid for work off-the-clock.

In reaching their administrative settlements, Concord Farms agreed to pay a total of $370,107 in overtime wages and liquidated damages to 10 workers, $4,242 in late wages to 23 workers and $29,049 in civil money penalties to address its various violations. California Terra Gardens agreed to pay $84,074 to allow 39 workers to recoup the employers' illegal housing deductions, and $42,494 in civil money penalties to resolve its housing, wage disclosure and recordkeeping violations.

The accused shooter, indicted in January 2024, was an employee of Terra Gardens who worked at Concord Farms previously.

Headquartered in Half Moon Bay, California Terra Gardens grows mushrooms in an enclosed structure year-round. Its owners also operate Terra Gardens locations in Pescadero and Ventura, Forest Mushroom Food Inc. in Pasadena and Half Moon Bay Properties LLC in Fremont.

Headquartered in Union City, Concord Farms grows and wholesales mushrooms and vegetables in Half Moon Bay and has a distribution warehouse in Vernon.

In fiscal year 2023, investigators recovered more than $6.8 million in back wages for more than 7,300 agricultural industry workers and assessed employers more than $6.6 million in civil money penalties for violations of federal regulations.

For more information:
Michael Petersen
U.S. Department of Labor
Tel.: +1 415-625-2630
Email: [email protected]

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