Federal judge orders farm labor company to pay $7.6M for discrimination violations

EEOC lawsuit claimed employer exposed workers to harassment and hostile environment

Posted May 9, 2016

A Washington state farm labor contractor has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $7,658,500 for a pattern or practice of subjecting Thai farmworkers to a hostile work environment, harassment, and discrimination in violation of federal antidiscrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

As part of the $7,658,500 in compensatory and punitive damages, the judge ordered an enhanced award of $2,500 to each Thai farmworker who was detained by the police because the company confiscated his or her passport. To the Thai farmworker struck on the head with cane by a supervisor pushing him to work faster, the judge awarded additional punitive damages of $16,000 for each month he worked under such abuse.

The judge ordered punitive damages here based on a specific finding that the company’s discriminatory conduct was “clearly and convincingly” “malicious and with reckless disregard” of these farmworkers’ “federally protected rights … health and safety, ethnicity, and financial vulnerability.”


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