An eastern Tennessee tomato grower-packer is under fire for allegedly violating labor laws.
A migrant labor legal organization representing 15 Mexican workers claims Fish Farms, Newport, Tenn., forced the workers to work in “inhuman working conditions,” exposed them to pesticides, housed them in “overcrowded and squalid” trailers, failed to provide them drinkable water and fired them for complaining to authorities, according to an April 12 news release issued by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Southern Migrant Legal Services.
Among other things, the lawsuit also accuses the grower-shipper of “privately deporting” the complaining workers and contends the company’s managers interfered with Tennessee Department of Agriculture and a U.S. Department of Labor investigations.
Fish Farms’ owner, Jimmie Fish, declined comment and referred calls to his lawyer, Jay Mader, of a Knoxville, Tenn., law firm, who didn’t return calls to The Packer.
In media reports, Mader, however, said his client hadn’t yet been served notice of the lawsuit, adding that Fish Farms plans to respond through the proper legal channels.
Fish Farms packs under its Tennessee Pioneer label.