Nutrien Claims Employment Allegations Against it Belong in Federal Court

On Monday, Nutrien removed a class action civil lawsuit filed against it containing employment allegations to the Eastern District of California. The defendant claimed that the federal court has original jurisdiction over the matter based on the allegations in the complaint and the Class Action Fairness Act, because the putative class and amount in claims is significant enough. 

The complaint was initially filed in the Superior Court of California, Tulare County in April. The plaintiff alleged that Nutrien, Nutrien Ag Solutions Inc., Western Farm Service Inc., and various unnamed employees breached California labor and business codes in the 10-count complaint.

In the filing, the plaintiff alleged, on behalf of himself and other employees working for the defendants during the last five years, that the agriculture companies failed to pay wages, allow meal and rest breaks, pay overtime, pay minimum wages, pay wages due after employees left the company, report wages, keep payroll records, reimburse for business expenses, and comply with other business laws.

Specifically, the plaintiff said that he was employed by the company between July and November 2019 as an hourly-paid non-exempt employee, he worked more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week and was not paid for the overtime hours and were denied break periods.  According to the complaint, the defendants knew or should have known about the requirements, and were acting negligently.

The plaintiff is seeking restitution of unpaid wages for himself and the rest of the class, attorneys fees, and injunctive relief.

In the removal notice, Nutrien claimed that procedural requirements for removal were met and considered the monetary amount in controversy for each of the 10 claims in the complaint. The defendant cited that under the Class Action Fairness Act, only one putative class member has to be a citizen of a state other than the defendant for there to be a diversity of jurisdiction, which is achieved since Nutrien is incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Colorado.

The plaintiff is represented by Lawyers for Justice PC. Nutrien Ag Solutions Inc. is represented by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C