Employees of cannabis companies have the same rights as workers who are employed by any other entity. A California cannabis company knowingly withheld wages, meal breaks and rest periods from its employees, according to a lawsuit filed by a former worker who accused the company and a separate marketing firm of violating state labor laws. The case is entitled Fishenden v. Seaside Sales and Marketing LLC and was filed in the Superior Court of California.

The California based employee sued under two entities, Medical Marijuana Inc. and Seaside Sales and Marketing LLC, in a Private Attorneys General Act. He charged violations of state wage hour laws. He claims that the employer, through its managers, did not record all hours worked and these managers also lied to employees by telling them that the denial of wages was appropriate. Also, he claims that the companies automatically deducted a half-hour for lunch but the workers did not take the lunch breaks.

The Complaint alleges that “as a result of defendants’ scheduling practices and/or policies, plaintiff and other non-party aggrieved employees routinely had meal periods that were missed, late, short, and/or interrupted. In addition, defendants required other non-party aggrieved employees to work in excess of 10 hours in a day but did not relieve them of their duties to take second 30-minute meal periods or even schedule second meal periods.”

The employee alleges workers did not get appropriate lunch breaks at the right time and worked for more than ten hours without receiving an uninterrupted 10-minute rest period. There is also a serious allegation that employees worked off the clock and were not paid. The worker alleges several statutory violations and seeks civil penalties and attorney fees.

The Takeaway

Not paying for off-the-clock work is a definite no-no, in any employment context. The point is, again, that workers in the cannabis industry are entitled to many (if not all) of the same protections that workers in so-called “straight” businesses are.