California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su filed a $1.6 million lawsuit against a farm labor contractor for ongoing non-payment of salaries to Hispanic agricultural workers.

The complaint alleges that for three years starting in April 2009 about 150 workers at Salvador Zavala Chavez's Zavala Farms worked more than 10 hours a day without receiving overtime pay and/or received hourly wages below the minimum wage established by California law.

"These workers picked lettuce and worked in grape fields over 10 hours a day without receiving overtime pay," Su said.

"When workers come forward, as these farmworkers have done, to tell us about illegal working conditions, we will take action to protect them," the labor commissioner said.

The lawsuit arose as a result of an investigation headed by the California Department of Industrial Relations, which found concrete evidence of violations of law.

The suit seeks not only the workers' back pay and the overtime that they are due, which together with the corresponding fines amount to $1.26 million, but also to prevent Zavala Farms from violating the law again.

The lawsuit alleges that legal violations occurred at more than 10 different workplaces, mainly in Monterey County. EFE