State court judge rules that bonuses and wages are not interchangeable.
Migrant Legal Aid has won another battle in its state court litigation against Manzana LLC. In this lawsuit, Kent County Judge Christopher Yates had certified a class of workers, the first of two significant rulings in this case where Plaintiffs allege they were not paid for all hours worked. In the most recent court filing, Manzana argued that even if that were true, Manzana gave some of the class members an end-of-season bonus, and that this bonus should be used to reduce or eliminate any money that Manzana may owe to their employees.
As farmworkers and advocates know, the biggest bonuses usually go to the most efficient workers. If Manzana had been successful in its argument(s), then the hardest workers - the ones that benefitted their employer the most - would have been hurt the most.
Fortunately, the court largely rejected Manzana's argument(s), ruling that bonuses and wages are not interchangeable. Migrant Legal Aid believes this is the first opinion of its kind in Michigan, setting a positive precedent for the future.
This case is an example of how Migrant Legal Aid meets the unique legal needs of Michigan farmworkers. MLA filed this case in 2018 and has pursued it through both state and federal Courts. We are in a unique position to have the resources, the unparalleled class action experience for Michigan farmworkers; and the freedom to pursue a multi-year class action case for migrant workers. We appreciate the expertise and dedication of private attorneys, like our co-counsel Paul Strauss and Curtis Warner. Much credit to Ben O'Hearn of MLA who briefed and argued these significant motions.