Irwindale Maker of Popular Hot Sauce Settles Labor Suit for $525,000

Hand with red hot sauce in bottle on blue background.

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former employee of an Irwindale company that produces a well-known hot sauce is backing the $525,000 settlement of a lawsuit she filed against the firm on behalf of herself and about 120 other current and former workers in which she alleged they were not paid for all hours worked.

Plaintiff Anna Valdez further alleged in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods Inc. -- brought in November 2020 under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 -- that she was required to work in sweltering conditions without air conditioning.

"I am aware that (Huy Fong Foods) denies the allegations in this lawsuit and that there has been no determination that (the firm) is actually liable for any of these alleged violations," Valdez says in a sworn declaration filed Tuesday in support of the accord. "I have been advised of the terms of the proposed settlement of this case and in light of the risks and uncertainties in proceeding with the case, I believe the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the aggrieved employees."

The suit sought civil penalties under PAGA and the state Labor Code. The settlement was announced by Valdez's attorney during a status conference in December before Judge Christopher Lui, who is scheduled to decide whether to approve the accord on March 3.

In their court papers, attorneys for the company said Valdez "primarily worked as a janitor" and should not be allowed to represent other employees with different hours and work conditions.

But in her declaration, Valdez stated she and her co-workers performed manual labor and were paid at or near minimum wage.

"In many work areas, the only climate control solutions were industrial fans that recirculated the hot air," Valdez added. "Despite these working conditions, we were frequently denied timely meal and rest breaks and completely denied second meal periods and third rest breaks when we worked over 10 hours."

Valdez left the company in May 2020, the suit stated.

Huy Fong's Sriracha sauce is a popular chili sauce often called "rooster sauce" due to the rooster on its bottle label.

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