Santa Cruz, CA: (Jun-26-07) Two Watsonville residents, Jose Contreras Moreno and Guillermo Melendez, who worked as butchers, stockers and janitors at the La Esperanza Mercado Carniceria, filed a class action lawsuit against the supermarket chain, alleging that it failed to pay employees for overtime. The lawsuit against the owners of La Esperanza was filed in 2006 on behalf of the two Watsonville residents, who claimed they worked 10-hour days, six days a week, but never received overtime pay. Moreno was employed there from June 2003 to August 2004 and Melendez from May 2000 to October 2003.
In a settlement reached, market owners Javier and Emilia Vazquez agreed to pay $610,000 to former and current employees of the markets and cover the cost of their legal fees. Company officials claimed that La Esperanza was making a serious effort to compensate workers for all the wages-and-hour violations that occurred while they were employed at the markets and as many as 563 workers in the chain, which has stores in Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Salinas, San Jose, and Soledad, may be eligible for compensation. [SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL: UNPAID OVERTIME]