Request Legal Help Now - Free


California Mushroom Farms Pay Workers $450K

. By

After investigating two mushroom farms where a farm worker shot eight co-workers, the farm owners must pay more than $450,000 in back wages and damages.

Half Moon Bay, CATwo mushroom farm owners must pay 62 workers more than $450,000 in back wages and damages after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation discovered unpaid wages and unsafe housing conditions, and other California labor law violations. The investigation was triggered by a massacre in 2023: a farm worker shot eight co-workers, seven fatally.

Both Concord Farms and California Terra Garden Inc. housed its workers in sickening conditions; they were forced to sleep near garbage and insects, said Alberto Raymond, assistant district director at the Department of Labor. One day after the shooting, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that some workers were living in on-site shipping containers and make as little as $9 an hour. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told KQED that other workers were living in shacks without running water or electricity. Their conditions were described as “deplorable” and “heartbreaking.”

It’s hard to imagine that bucolic Half Moon Bay, just 30 miles south of San Francisco, with flower farms amongst rolling hills and a pumpkin festival is hellish for agricultural workers. “Once an employer provides a worker housing, the worker becomes dependent on them not only for their wages but for their housing security and the security of their families,” said Cynthia Rice, director of litigation, advocacy and training at California Rural Legal Assistance. Both farms in June 2023 were cited by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for “serious” health and safety violations.

Farmworker advocates say that, because about 60 percent of farm workers in California are undocumented immigrants, fears of deportation or workplace retaliation often keep them from speaking out about unfair and sometimes illegal labor practices. If not for the 2023 killings and subsequent investigation, it’s likely that working conditions would not change, despite being “protected by the state’s labor laws and workplace safety and health regulations, regardless of their immigration status.”

Concord Farm

Concord Farm’s owner, Grace Tung, housed workers in "moldy, makeshift rooms in a greenhouse infested with insects," according to investigators who also said workers did not receive overtime pay beyond 40 hours a week and were not paid for work off-the-clock.

As well, it was cited by The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for 19 violations, three of them serious, including failure to address previous incidents of workplace violence and develop procedures to correct and prevent this hazard. According to the Labor Department, Tung will 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 settle violations.

California Terra Garden

California Terra Garden housed 39 workers housed in small cargo containers, garages and old trailers. The Labor Department said that the workers were forced to sleep on filthy mattresses and were exposed to insects and trash. The farm’s owners deducted money from workers’ pay for the substandard housing illegally.

The mushroom farm has agreed to pay $84,074 to 39 workers to compensate for the owners' illegal housing deductions and $42,494 in civil money penalties to resolve record-keeping violations. Cal/OSHA cited 22 violations, including five classified as serious and one classified as serious accident-related.

“The Department of Labor is determined to hold employers accountable when they ignore their legal responsibilities to provide suitable housing when required and pay workers all their legally earned wages for the hard work they do in difficult conditions,” Alberto Raymond with the Labor Department told CNN. “We are committed to enforcing these workplace protections that ensure a safe and suitable living conditions for seasonal workers.”


California Labor Law Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an employment law lawyer who may evaluate your California Labor Law claim at no cost or obligation.


Please read our comment guidelines before posting.

Note: Your name will be published with your comment.

Your email will only be used if a response is needed.

Are you the defendant or a subject matter expert on this topic with an opposing viewpoint? We'd love to hear your comments here as well, or if you'd like to contact us for an interview please submit your details here.

Click to learn more about

Request Legal Help Now! - Free