By KAREN VELIE
A former employee of House of Holistics is suing the marijuana company and several affiliated cannabis growers for allegedly failing to pay him for his work, and for multiple labor violations.
In the past, many marijuana businesses operated as criminal enterprises paying employees with cash under the table and ignoring state labor laws. But with the passage of Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana, cannabis business owners can no longer avoid California’s labor laws.
Helios Dayspring, the owner of Grover Beach based House of Holistics, also operates more than a dozen Central Coast marijuana grow operations with multiple partners. Dayspring’s marijuana farms are generally overseen by a primary employee who is offered a portion of the proceeds for the work, several sources involved with his marijuana business said.
According to the lawsuit, Dayspring contracted to pay former employee Tony Brocking 1/6 of the monies from three California Valley cannabis grows that Brocking tended. However, Dayspring refused to pay Brocking after the cannabis sold, the lawsuit alleges.
In 2017, Brocking harvested 1,001 pounds of cannabis for Dayspring, which then sold for $3,600 per pound for a total of $3.59 million, according to the suit.
In addition to the breach of contract allegation, Brocking’s suit claims that Dayspring violated labor laws by not providing pay stubs, not paying overtime, and not providing lunch breaks or suitable work conditions.
While managing the grow, the defendants required Brocking to stay on the property while managing the grow. The farm house on the property did not have hot water, a sink, a stove or a shower. Dayspring required Brocking at all times guard against “weed pirates,” according to the lawsuit.
“Defendants told Brocking that he needed to keep firearms at the ranch house in which he was staying in case anyone came to loot the crop,” the lawsuit says.
Brocking is suing Dayspring, House of Holistics, Matthew Maier, and Knut and Michael Siegfried. His suit includes 15 causes of action including breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, intentional misrepresentation and multiple violations of the California Labor Code. He is seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages.
“These deplorable acts caused plaintiff to suffer severe emotional and physical distress making defendants guilty of oppression and malice, justifying an award of punitive and exemplary damages, the lawsuit reads.