697 F.2d 1333 (9th Cir. 1983), 80-5651, Alvarez v. Longboy

Docket Nº80-5651, 80-5687.
Citation697 F.2d 1333
Party NameGuadalupe ALVAREZ, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Romulo Medina LONGBOY, a/k/a
Case DateFebruary 02, 1983
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 1333

697 F.2d 1333 (9th Cir. 1983)

Guadalupe ALVAREZ, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

Romulo Medina LONGBOY, a/k/a "Romie," Defendant-Appellee.

Guadalupe ALVAREZ, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Romulo Medina LONGBOY, a/k/a "Romie," Defendant-Appellant,

and

Jose Lopez Garcia, a/k/a "El Rey," Defendant.

Nos. 80-5651, 80-5687.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 2, 1983

Argued and Submitted Dec. 7, 1981.

Page 1334

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1335

Cathy Christian, Robert K. Miller, Oxnard, Cal., for Alvarez.

Laurie A. Laws, Dressler, Stoll, Quesenbery, Laws & Barsamian, Newport Beach, Cal., for Longboy.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before BROWNING, Chief Judge, ANDERSON, Circuit Judge, and MARQUEZ, [*] District Judge.

BROWNING, Chief Judge:

This appeal presents several questions regarding the interpretation of the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act, 7 U.S.C. Secs. 2041-2055 (1976).

Migrant workers are widely employed in the cultivation and harvesting of agricultural products. Growers secure migrant farm workers through the services of farm labor contractors or "crew leaders" who "are the middlemen in making work arrangements between farmworkers and growers and in this capacity often recruit, transport, supervise, handle pay arrangements, and otherwise act as an intermediary between the migrant worker and the farmer." S.Rep. No. 202, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. 1 (1963), reprinted in 1964 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 3690.

Abuses by farm labor contractors led to enactment in 1963 of the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act. Pub.L. No. 88-582, 78 Stat. 920 (1964). The Act required registration of labor contractors, and conditioned registration upon a showing of moral and fiscal responsibility. Crew leaders were required to inform workers at the time of recruitment regarding the area of employment, the crops and operators involved, the transportation, housing and insurance provided, the wage rates paid, and the charges made by the crew leader. Certain postings were to be made and certain records kept. Violations were punished by revocation of registration or criminal prosecution with a fine of up to $500.

By the early 1970's, it was apparent the Act had failed to achieve its objectives. Amendments were adopted in 1974 to correct its deficiencies. Three are directly relevant. Section 2045 of Title 7 was amended to require the contractor to disclose to workers at the time of recruitment the existence of any strike at the place of employment. This and other disclosures were required to be made "in writing in a language in which the worker is fluent." 1 Finally, provision was made in section 2050a for a private right of action by "[a]ny person claiming to be aggrieved," for "damages up to and including an amount equal to the amount of actual damages, or $500 for each violation, or other equitable relief." 2

Page 1336

The plaintiffs are migrant farm workers and members of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. They were employed by two growers against whom they and their union were on strike. The defendant is a farm labor contractor who furnished workers to the strike-bound growers to replace plaintiffs and other striking workers. Plaintiffs brought this action under section 2050a alleging defendant had failed to give the replacement workers written notice of the strike as required by section 2045(b)(7). The district court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs, awarding them the injunctive relief they sought, damages of $150 each, and attorney's fees of $7,500. Plaintiffs appeal the portion of the judgment awarding them $150 instead of $500 each. Defendant cross-appeals, contending plaintiffs lacked standing, and that summary judgment, the award of damages, and the award of attorney's fees were improper.

I

Standing

Defendant argues plaintiffs lack standing because the interest plaintiffs sue to protect is not "within the zone of interests to be protected" by the Act, and because plaintiffs failed to prove "injury in fact." Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 152, 153, 90 S.Ct. 827, 829, 830, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970).

In defendant's view the Act is concerned primarily with the relationship between each farm labor contractor and that contractor's "crew" of migrant workers, and secondarily with the relationship between the workers and the grower who purchases their services. Defendant contends the Act was not intended to protect persons, like plaintiffs, who had no business relationship with the particular labor contractor accused of violating the Act.

We believe the Act "can be understood as granting persons in the plaintiff[s'] position a right to judicial relief." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 500, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2206, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The language and purpose of the Act are broad enough to extend relief to such persons, and the legislative history strongly suggests that coverage of persons in plaintiffs' position was in fact intended.

The Act "is remedial and should be broadly construed." Marshall v. Coastal Growers Association, 598 F.2d 521, 525 (9th Cir.1979). Section 2050a(a) authorizes suit by "[a]ny person claiming to be aggrieved" by a violation of the Act. This language is patterned after language defining standing under federal Civil Rights statutes, 3 and has been viewed in that context as "broad and inclusive," Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 93 S.Ct. 364, 366-367, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972), and as "show[ing] 'a congressional intention to define standing as broadly as is permitted by Article III of the Constitution.' " Id., quoting Hackett v. McGuire Brothers, 445 F.2d 442, 446 (3d Cir.1971).

The Act's declaration of policy recognizes that irresponsible contractors victimize not only their own "crews" but growers, migrant workers, and the public generally, 7 U.S.C. Sec. 2041(a). Section 2045(f) of the Act also undercuts defendant's argument that only persons who are objects of a contractor's violation can sue to enforce the Act. Migrant workers hired by a contractor in violation of the prohibition against "recruiting, employing, or utilizing, with knowledge, the services of any person who is an alien not lawfully admitted for permanent residence or who has not been authorized by the Attorney General to accept employment," could not themselves sue for the violation.

Page 1337

It is a natural inference that section 2045(b)(7)'s requirement that a labor contractor provide written notice to migrant workers that a strike exists at the place at which the workers are to be employed was intended for the benefit of the strikers as well as the recruited workers, or, more accurately, for the benefit of the whole body of migrant workers. This inference is strongly supported by the legislative history.

Legislative consideration of the amendments of the Act began with the introduction of H.R. 7597 on May 8, 1973. 119 Cong.Rec. 14621...

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