California-based Global Horizons Sued for Human Trafficking and Race Discrimination
April 22, 2011
In recent employment news that our Orange County, California labor and employment lawyers have been following, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced this week that it has filed its largest human trafficking case in the commission's agriculture history--filing discrimination lawsuits against Global Horizons, Inc., a farm labor contractor based in Los Angeles, California, along with eight farms.
The EEOC reportedly filed lawsuits alleging that the contractor engaged in discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on race and national origin, by trafficking over 200 male victims from Thailand to farms in Washington and Hawaii, where they experienced severe abuse between 2003 and 2007.
According to the lawsuit, Global Horizons enticed male workers from Thailand with the promise of high-paying agriculture jobs that would allow them to work and live in the United States legally, with temporary visas. The promises were reported false, and came with high recruitment fees that trapped the workers--creating substantial debt they were unable to pay back.
After reaching Global Horizons in the U.S. locations, the workers' passports were reportedly taken, and deportation was threatened if they complained about the reported mistreatment, harassment, intimidation, physical abuse and unequal pay. The lawsuit claims that workers lived in rat and insect infested housing with overcrowded rooms and few beds, and were forced to stay on the premises with bodyguards stationed around the farms--where they endured screaming, severe threats and physical assault, and were kept separate from other farm workers who appeared to have working conditions that were tolerable.
The EEOC's lawsuit argues that human trafficking is a form of discrimination based on race and national origin, which directly violates federal law, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit seeks back pay, punitive and compensatory damages as well as injunctive relief to prevent the company from engaging in workplace discrimination in the future. Under federal employment laws, foreign workers have the right to be treated as equals, and as the EEOC's Los Angeles Office District Director stated, foreign workers should not be treated like second-class citizens.
In cities throughout Orange County, California and Southern California, contact Howard Law, PC today.
EEOC Files Its Largest Farm Worker Human Trafficking Suit Against Global Horizons, Farms, EEOC Press Release, April 20, 2011
Feds file human-trafficking suit against farm labor contractor, CNN, April 21, 2011
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