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Feds sue Bottomley Evergreens over labor laws

No minimum wage or overtime paid to 439 workers, lawsuit asserts


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Bottomley Evergreens has been sued by the Labor Department for labor violations involving wreath makers at its Northwest Wreath Company facility on Lusted Road.The United States Department of Labor has filed suit against Bottomley Evergreens of Gresham for violating fair labor practices against more than 400 holiday wreath makers at its facility on Lusted Road.

According to the lawsuit, filed April 30 in United States District Court, the wreath makers were paid per piece for each wreath completed, but were not paid minimum wage or overtime since August of 2010.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - The wreath production facility of Bottomley Evergreens on Lusted Road has been sued by the U.S. Dept. of Labor for violations of fair labor standards involving more than 400 workers.The defendants listed on the suit are Bottomley Evergreens and Farms, Bottomley Nevada Inc., Bottomley Properties of Nevada, Bottomley Evergreens of Oregon, William Bottomley, Mitchell Bottomley and Martha Bottomley.

The lawsuit seeks a judgment against the defendants and “liquidated damages,” or monetary compensation, for “unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation due defendant's employees employed as wreath makers and associated workers...”

The suit also asks that if liquidated damages are not awarded, that the court allow “pre-judgment interest computed on unpaid wages due” as well as payment of overtime wages to employees who made wreaths, garlands and baskets that were sold to local and national retailers.

Employees' work hours were not accurately recorded and maintained, the suit asserts, and were “compensated on a piece rate basis...without consideration of the number of hours worked.”

An exhibit attached to the lawsuit lists the names of 439 employees named in the suit, and they all worked at the Bottomley's Gresham facility. Almost all have Hispanic last names.

Jose Carnevali, deputy regional director of public affairs for the Dept. of Labor's office in San Francisco, said the lawsuit follows an investigation conducted by the department's Wage and Hour Division district office in Portland and the lawsuit “only involves violations committed in Oregon.”

The wreath makers were not paid for working more than 40 hours a week and were also not paid for training, according to the lawsuit.

The company's website, www.bottomleysevergreens.com, gives the home address of the business as 6460 Glade Valley Road in Ennice, N.C. No mention is made of the Gresham facility. The website lists offers many types of Christmas greenery including bouquets, swags, centerpieces, baskets and wreaths. Some wreaths are decorated while some are plain, made from evergreens such as Fraser fir, white pine, boxwood, pine and juniper.

Several messages left at the company's headquarters were not returned.

The website states that Mitchell Bottomley and his father, Blan Bottomley, started Bottomleys Evergreens & Farms in 1990, “turning a cottage family business into the largest supplier of Christmas greenery in the eastern United States.”



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