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Glass House Slapped with California Labor Lawsuit

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The cannabis company Glass House was slapped with a lawsuit alleging California labor law violations

Los Angeles, CAGlass House Brands Inc. was slapped with a proposed class action lawsuit last month, alleging California labor law violations. A former worker accuses the major California marijuana producer of engaging in a systematic pattern of wage violations, including unpaid overtime and unrealistic workloads.

The lawsuit, filed February 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court by former pot trimmer Gerard Melendez, also names as defendants Glass House subsidiaries Glass House Camarillo Cultivation, Mission Health Associates and GH Camarillo as well as Houweling’s Camarillo and Labor Force Management, according to Law360. (Melendez was initially employed by Labor Force Management and Houweling’s.)

Melendez claims that he and his co-workers “regularly worked in excess” of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week to meet “excessive quotas” imposed by Glass House. Those quotas comprised trimming four pounds of cannabis a day at a marijuana farm in Ventura County and workers either had to shorten or eliminate meal breaks to meet those demands. Because the company was short-staffed, it led to unreasonable expectations for workers, such as the four pounds-a-day demand. (Four pounds is about double the output of a skilled hand-trimmer, according to a Mobius case study.)

The lawsuit claims that Glass House:
  • Failed to pay wages, sick pay and overtime pay,
  • Failed to provide meal breaks, rest periods, bathroom breaks,
  • Exposed workers to safety hazards while working overtime, such as recovery or cool down periods in the heat,
  • Did not provide itemized wage statements,
  • Did not reimburse business expenses, and other violations under the state’s quota and unfair-compensation laws.
The lawsuit states: “Defendants knew or should have known they had a duty to compensate plaintiff and class members, and defendants had the financial ability to pay such compensation, but willingly, knowingly, and intentionally failed to do so in order to increase the defendants’ profits.” Melendez is seeking compensation for himself and others who’ve worked for Glass House during the past four years.

The case is Melendez v. Glass House Camarillo Cultivation LLC et al

Cannabis Confrontation

While the above lawsuit is waiting for class action status, Glass House is also embroiled in a lawsuit by another California cannabis company. Catalyst Cannabis Co. filed the defamation lawsuit last June under its company name 562 Discount Med Inc. accusing Glass House of being “one of the largest, not the largest, black marketers of cannabis in the State of California, if not the country.” Catalyst Chief Executive Officer Elliot Lewis is far from laid back and has posted multiple videos on LinkedIn detailing his view of Glass House’s alleged wrongdoings.

MJBizDaily reported that Catalyst claims Glass House “knowingly is entering into illicit sales – both inside and outside California” by selling marijuana in the legal market as well as via a “network” of so-called “burner distros” – licensed distributors set up to be briefly used as conduits for legally grown cannabis to enter the illicit market. Then the distributors send legally grown weed to illicit markets “as far away as New York and New Jersey,” where illegal marijuana sales are rampant and where many illicit shops do sell cannabis in packaging featuring California branding, according to the lawsuit.

Catalyst’s Lewis is on a rampage: In 2021 he also filed suit against California’s Department of Cannabis Control, claiming that regulators were aware of the “burner distro” situation but have been unable or unwilling to curtail it. A judge initially dismissed his allegations before it could go to discovery but is currently on appeal.

According to MJBiz Daily, Glass House has become a favorite target of many frustrated legal-market operators in California for its ambitious efforts to become one of the largest cannabis producers in the country. Forbes noted that it opened a 5.5 million-square-foot cultivation complex in Southern California last year. As well, Glass House borrowed up to $100 million to retrofit that greenhouse complex suitably for marijuana. It also operates nine retail locations, three of which it acquired last year for $22.6 million. You’d think the company could afford to hire more staff and pay its trimmers overtime.


California Labor Law Legal Help

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