California Governor Newsom signs the paid sick leave extension and COVID relief for small businesses while visiting NIDO’s BackYard in Oakland, Calif., on February 9, 2022. (Office of the Governor via Bay City News)

The state Labor Commissioner has cited Foster Farms and three temporary staffing agencies for nearly $3.8 million for their failure to inform 3,476 temporary workers of their available COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

The commissioner cited Foster Farms, LLC, Foster Poultry Farms, Viking Staffing CA LLC, Human Bees Inc. and Marcos Renteria Ag Services. Inc.

The companies owe the temporary workers a total of $3,783,800 in penalties, according to a news release issued Tuesday afternoon from the office of the California Labor Commissioner:

– Human Bees, Inc. owes its 1,987 temporary workers $940,050;

– Viking Staffing CA, LLC owes its 341 temporary workers $377,850; and

– Marcos Renteria Ag Services Inc. owes its 1,148 temporary workers $2,465,900.

“Workers should not have to worry about financial hardship if they need to take care of themselves or a family member who is COVID positive,” Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said in the statement. “That’s what supplemental paid sick leave is for – it keeps sick workers at home and protects against the spread of COVID-19.”

The citations follow an investigation begun in 2020 of a Foster Farms processing plant in Livingston, after COVID-19 outbreaks were reported.

An audit of payroll records determined that the temporary staffing agencies named above hired staff to fill in for permanent workers affected by COVID-19 outbreaks at the plant, but failed to inform the temporary staff of their rights to supplemental paid sick leave. The Labor Commissioner’s Office found the temporary staffing agencies and Foster Farms jointly liable for these violations.