Employers & Employment, Labor, Litigation, Rights

Farmworker Sues Employment Agency for his Personnel Records

From MyDesert.com, Paul Young, City News Service, 28 Jul 2011.

[Thermal, CA] — A Thermal farmworker is suing an Indio employment agency for allegedly withholding his work history records, but a spokeswoman for the firm said Wednesday that his claims are baseless.

Victoriano Esteban filed suit in Riverside County Superior Court seeking a judicial decree that America’s Labor Supply release all documents pertaining to his past employment, pay him back wages and pay unspecified penalties for allegedly failing to comply with his earlier requests to see his records.

“All California workers have a right under state law to request and receive copies of their personnel records,” said Megan Beam, an attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., which is representing Esteban.

“For farmworkers, this right is crucial because many, like Mr. Esteban … may not be able to read the records themselves or may be physically located in a completely different part of the state at the time of the request,” Beam said. “This case is very important to us because delays in receipt of those records have significant negative impacts on workers’ unemployment claims and other critical paperwork.”

Esteban and his daughter were hired by America’s Labor Supply in 2010 to harvest grapes at various locations.

According to the suit filed Tuesday, the migrant worker tried several times to obtain documents related to his employment, but America’s Labor Supply did not comply.

Juanita Torres, personnel manager for the decade-old labor contracting firm, said she’s familiar with Esteban and cannot understand on what grounds he filed the lawsuit, which she didn’t hear about until receiving a request for comment from City News Service.

“He has access to his records,” she told CNS. “All he has to do is come into the office and provide me with his Social Security and green cards, and he can see whatever we have on file.”

According to Torres, most documents consist of whatever a worker provides, including an application and copies of identification. She said there is a “check history” of payments to employees, and that paperwork is available upon request.

“I know who this guy is, but I don’t know about any personnel records request,” Torres said.

Source: MyDesert.com, “Farmworker sues employment agency for his personnel records” by Paul Young, City News Service, 28 Jul 2011.

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