$1M settlement reached in dairy worker overtime lawsuit

Yakima County Superior Court has approved a $1 million settlement that provides retroactive overtime pay for workers at a Lower Yakima Valley dairy.

The settlement wraps up a class-action lawsuit filed in 2016 by Jose Martinez-Cuevas and Patricia Aguilar on behalf of nearly 300 workers of DeRuyter Brothers Dairy of Outlook, the Yakima Herald reported.

Martinez-Cuevas and Aguilar alleged that they worked nine to 12 hours a day, six days a week without rest breaks, meal pay or overtime pay.

Most of the wage claims were resolved in a $600,000 settlement approved in 2017. That settlement left unresolved a challenge to state law that exempted workers from overtime pay.

The case went to the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled last fall that the overtime exemption for the dairy workers was unconstitutional. However, the question of whether the DeRuyter workers were entitled to retroactive overtime pay went back to Yakima County Superior Court.

The case was set for a hearing, but a settlement was reached, said Andrea Schmitt, an attorney for Columbia Legal Services, which represented the workers.

Former owners Jacobus and Geneva DeRuyter have sold the dairy but will still fulfill the settlement terms.

The DeRuyter’s lawyer said the original complaint challenged state law on overtime, but didn’t claim DeRuyter violated the law as written at the time.

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