(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.