Support through your toughest HR challenges: A network of 285,000 HR professionals.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of its national origin and race discrimination case with four Hawaii farms charged with labor abuses of Thai farmworkers brought to the U.S. under the H-2A temporary visa program.
Mac Farms of Hawaii, Kauai Coffee Co., Kelena Farms and Captain Cook Coffee Co. agreed to pay $2.4 million in direct monetary relief to about 530 Thai workers. The settlement also includes options for jobs, benefits, housing and other expense reimbursements, as well as injunctive remedies.
In March 2014, U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi in Hawaii ruled that Beverly Hills, Calif.-based farm labor contractor Global Horizons was liable for the pattern or practice of harassing and discriminating and retaliating against hundreds of Thai farmworkers in the U.S. based on their national origin and race, in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC named six Hawaii farms as defendants, asserting that they were joint employers with Global Horizons and liable due to the acts committed by the contractor. A November trial has been set to determine Global Horizons’ financial damages. The EEOC has said it will seek the maximum compensation for each victim under federal law—about $300,000 per person, or $159 million for all 530 claimants. Del Monte Fresh Produce settled in November 2013 for $1.2 million. The case against Maui Pineapple Co. is ongoing.
The EEOC asserted that between 2003 and 2007, Global Horizons recruited Thai nationals through the H-2A agricultural guest worker visa program to work on farms, where they harvested a variety of produce, from pineapples to coffee beans. High recruitment fees created an insurmountable debt for the Thai workers, according to the agency. The EEOC charged that when the workers reached the U.S., Global Horizons confiscated their passports and threatened to deport anyone who complained.
According to the charges, the workers were subjected to varying degrees of the denial or delay of pay; the monitoring of movements and the confiscation of passports; production quotas that non-Thai workers need not adhere to; denial of adequate food and water; and unsanitary, overcrowded living conditions.
As part of the settlement’s four consent decrees, Mac Farms will pay $1.6 million, Kauai Coffee will pay $425,000, Kelena Farms will pay $275,000 and Captain Cook Coffee will pay $100,000 directly to the victims. In addition, Kelena Farms offered full-time jobs with benefits, profit sharing and 401(k) plan options while Captain Cook Coffee offered seasonal jobs, benefits, transportation and housing for workers during the term of their decrees. The offers extended by Kelena and Captain Cook Coffee, valued at nearly $4.9 million, add to the direct monetary settlements over the duration of the consent decrees, according to the EEOC. The agency will monitor the terms of the job offers.
Injunctive relief includes requirements that farms and farm labor contractors (FLCs):
Agricultural employers need to be vigilant in hiring and monitoring farm labor contractors, said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, in a news release. “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable workers are not denied basic human dignity and life-sustaining water and food. Farms and farm labor contractors—and the supervisors that represent them—must ensure workers’ civil rights remain intact, no matter their race or the country they come from.”
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him at @SHRMRoy
SHRM Online Global HR page
Keep up with the latest Global HR news
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Talent Attraction Study: What Matters to the Modern Candidate
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies