upper waypoint

Half Moon Bay Farm Where Mass Shooting Took Place Settles Workplace Violations For More Than $400,000

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

a farm seen from the road
Concord Farms can be seen in the distance in Half Moon Bay on Jan. 3, 2024. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The second of two mushroom farms where seven farmworkers were fatally shot in Half Moon Bay last year has agreed to pay $374,000 in back wages and damages to workers, according to an announcement on Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

As part of its settlement, Concord Farms has also agreed to pay $29,000 in penalties to the U.S. Treasury.

Investigators found that the employer housed farmworkers in moldy, makeshift rooms in a greenhouse infested with insects and failed to pay overtime wages.

Earlier this year, KQED reported that California Terra Garden, the other farm where the shooting took place, paid more than $126,000 in back wages and penalties for violations uncovered by regulators.

“Our investigators found workers at California Terra Gardens and Concord Farms housed in sickening conditions, forced to sleep near garbage and with insects all around,” Alberto Raymond, assistant district director at the Department of Labor, said in a statement.

“The Department of Labor is determined to hold employers accountable when they ignore their legal responsibilities to provide suitable housing when required and pay workers all their legally earned wages,” he added.

The day after the shooting, which happened on Jan. 23, 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters that the farmworkers were living in “shipping containers” and earned only $9 per hour, far below the state’s minimum wage.

The accused gunman Chunli Zhao was indicted in January. At the time of the shooting, Zhao worked at California Terra Gardens, where five people were shot, one of whom survived. Three more people were shot and killed at nearby Concord Farms, where Zhao had previously worked.

Concord Farms has already paid about half of the total back wages and damages it owes, roughly $187,000, a labor department spokesman said.

Sandra Sencion, who directs the farmworker program at Ayudando a Latinos a Soñar in Half Moon Bay, said the nonprofit has been helping eligible workers and victims’ families recover the money they are also owed in the earlier California Terra Garden settlement.

Sencion described the latest development about Concord Farms’ agreement as “great news.”

“It’s great for other farmworkers to see that justice is served,” she told KQED. “There’s a lot of fear that workers have to speak up. And I hope it makes them feel like their voice matters, that their work matters.”

Efforts to contact Concord Farm’s owner, Grace Tung, for comment were unsuccessful.

In addition to the federal investigations, state regulators have also taken action to enforce workplace regulations against the two farms.

Last summer, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued proposed penalties of nearly $114,000 against California Terra Garden for 22 workplace safety violations. The agency also cited Concord Farms more than $51,000 for 19 violations. Both cases appear to be open, according to federal OSHA business records available online.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office additionally cited California Terra Garden for violations of paid sick leave laws. The business had settled for $150,000 as of January, according to an agency spokesperson.


lower waypoint
next waypoint