Cannabis Workers Allege Quota to Trim 4 Pounds a Day Violates the California Labor Code

Cannabis Workers Allege Quota to Trim 4 Pounds a Day Violates the California Labor Code


A California cannabis company is facing a class action lawsuit which alleges it forced its workers to meet an “excessive” daily quota which made them unable to comply with California labor laws regarding mealtimes and overtimes. Gerardo Melendez (“Melendez”), the named plaintiff, seeks attorneys’ fees pursuant to the Private Attorney General Doctrine and the Penal Code, as well as treble damages.[i] The purported class includes California citizens employed as non-exempt employees by cannabis company Glass House Brands or one of its subsidiaries during the class period.[ii]


The Allegations

Melendez alleges employees were forced to work during mealtimes or shorten mealtimes and work overtime to meet a quota of four pounds a day. Melendez alleges the “excessive” quota results in workers being unable “to comply with meal and rest period or occupational health and safety laws.”[iii] Melendez further alleges additional violations of the California Labor Code, including failure to reimburse employees for business expenses, failure to pay employees for work done during non-working hours, and failure to properly itemize wage statements.[iv] A purported subclass further alleges Glass House failed to pay all wages owed within 72 hours of termination of employment, as required.[v]

In addition to the Labor Code violations, the complaint alleges Glass House knowingly and intentionally withheld wages in violation of California Penal Code Sections 497(m) and 496(a),[vi] opening the door for treble damages and attorneys’ fees pursuant to Penal Code section 496(c).[vii]

Finally, the complaint seeks attorneys’ fees under Civil Code Section 1021.5.[viii] Section 1021.5 codifies the private Attorney General Doctrine by authorizing courts to award attorneys’ fees to a successful litigant “in any action which has resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest.”[ix]



Although the court has not ruled on class certification, on its face, the complaint satisfies the requirements, and certification seems likely. It is too early to determine whether plaintiff’s allegations have sufficient merit, but if the class is certified and plaintiff establishes the alleged violations did occur, Glass House may have to part with a large sum of money. This is a reminder to all employers that laws regulating when employees must take breaks and limiting the duration of hours they may work must be strictly complied with. Policies should be put in place to ensure all non-exempt employees are knowledgeable of the laws and obey them. These policies should apply to all non-exempt employees without exception, and even where the employee readily accepts the work or chooses to eat through lunch. Today’s “yes-man” may be tomorrow’s disgruntled class representative.




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