UPDATED: Fish Farms settles in farmworkers lawsuit - The Packer

UPDATED: Fish Farms settles in farmworkers lawsuit

04/19/2013 02:46:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 23) An eastern Tennessee tomato grower-packer accused of abusing farmworkers has settled with the workers.

Fish Farms, Newport, Tenn., agreed to pay $390,000 to 14 Mexican farmworkers who accused Fish Farms of violating labor laws by forcing workers to work in poor working conditions, according to a news release.

The lawsuit also contended the workers in 2010 were provided poor and overcrowded housing, “privately deported” to Mexico and later fired in retaliation for complaining to authorities.

After the workers reported their conditions to the U.S. Department of Labor, Fish Farms’ owners allegedly “stormed the workers’ housing brandishing firearms,” kicked-in a trailer door, cursed and hurled racial slurs and stole workers’ cell phones from their hands, according to the lawsuit.

The two sides agreed to the settlement on April 18.

In 2012, the department of labor fined Fish Farms more than $205,000 for agricultural labor law violations, according to the release.

Fish Farms sourced the workers through the H-2A guestworker visa program, according to the lawsuit.

A project of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Inc., Nashville, Tenn.-based Southern Migrant Legal Services, which represents farmworkers in the South, and another firm, represented the workers.

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Big Baby    
Georgia  |  April, 22, 2013 at 08:15 AM

Wow... I think the whole world has gone crazy.... no illegals, yes illegals, it would be nice if someone, or many make up their minds... Who's gonna harvest our stuff... Maybe we can train monkeys... oh im sure they cost more then immigrants.... Housing is a bonus... if you dont like what your supplied, stay somewhere else at your own expense... ya know there is a differene between the motel 6, and the Hilton Gardens.... Aren't we all sick of this conversation yet.. It seems to me that those who do the work are never happy with anything... If you don't like your working conditions... DO SOMETHING ELSE.... You do have that choice..Even illegal immigrants... They left where they came from to work. Not just complain.... We have enough complaining here....

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, KS  |  April, 22, 2013 at 06:28 PM

"Baby,' In this case, housing is not a bonus. These workers were brought into the U.S. under the H-2A program, which specifies wages, adequate housing and other terms. Workers in the H-2A program do not have another choice. The program specifies how long they can stay in the U.S. and what crops they can harvest. Chris Koger News Editor

Ben Hedges    
Virginia  |  April, 24, 2013 at 01:05 PM

If you treat the workers/pickers decently most will refuse to cooperate with your left wing. liberal, bleeding heart law centers. If you treat them like animals, you will end up in court. I know of a grower in New Jersey who thought he could get away with under paying pickers and then threating to tip off ICE and have them deported, too bad for him they were Puerto Rican and US citizens.

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