A Portland, Ore., jury has returned a split verdict in the second of three lawsuits filed against Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., a division of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Miami.

Oregon jury rules against Del Monte in labor case

The jury ruled Oct. 7 that Del Monte Fresh Produce must compensate more than 1,000 workers at the company’s Portland processing plant before an immigration raid in 2007.

Del Monte Fresh plans to appeal the rulings, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.

The class action suit charged, among other things, that Del Monte Fresh Produce  failed to pay workers for the time required to put on and remove protective clothing and that the company forced the workers to purchase their own protective clothing, according to a report in the Portland Oregonian.

Putting on and removing protective clothing during lunch breaks, the jury found, violated Oregon law that requires uninterrupted 30-minute periods for lunch. Del Monte also failed to abide by an agreement reached in the first suit that required the company to ensure similar violations did not occur, the jury concluded.

The jury determined Del Monte was within its rights to require employees to purchase the protective clothing, the report said.

A date has not yet been set for the jury to determine damages against Del Monte, but Oregon law provides a maximum penalty of 30 days of wages to each person whose minimum-wage rights were violated, the report said.

No date has been set for a third lawsuit filed by workers employed at Del Monte from 2007 to the present.

(Note on correction: The original story incorrectly named Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. as the plaintiff in the case).