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Jury Awards Intellectually Disabled Workers $240M for Poultry Plant Abuse and Harassment

May 9, 2013

In a landmark U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) disability discrimination lawsuit verdict issued last week, an Iowa jury awarded the EEOC damages that totaled $240 million--reportedly the largest in the EEOC's history for disability discrimination and severe workplace abuse.

According to the lawsuit, that Costa Mesa, California-based attorney Vincent Howard has been closely watching, the jury sided with the EEOC, who filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Hill County Farms, doing business as Henry's Turkey Service--claiming that the company subjected a group of 32 male workers with intellectual disabilities to massive abuse and disability discrimination from 2007 until 2009, after twenty years of similar illegal abuse and mistreatment. The company is based in Texas, but the work abuse occurred in Iowa.

The EEOC reportedly presented evidence that Henry's Turkey exploited these disabled and vulnerable workers for years, because their disabilities made them completely unaware that their legal rights were being denied. The evidence reportedly showed that the staffers and owners of the company subjected the workers, whose job responsibilities included eviscerating turkeys for twenty years, to constant physical and verbal harassment and abuse, restricted their freedom of movement, subjected them to other harsh conditions of employment such as forcing them to live in isolated, cruel, and sub-standard living conditions, and failed to provide them with proper medical care when necessary.

Among the verbal harassment and abuses frequently administered, the workers were referred to as "stupid," and "retarded," and were reportedly subjected to physical abuse that included kicking, hitting, and at least one instance of handcuffing. The workers were also forced to carry heavy weights to serve as punishment, and when they complained of injuries or pain, their complaints were dismissed by the supervisors and workers' caretakers.

According to the EEOC, this kind of abuse violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, disability harassment, and any other conditions of employment based on disabilities.

The jury awarded every worker with $2 million in punitive damages, and $5.5 million in compensatory damages. As Vincent Howard reported in a previous Carson employment lawyers blog, the EEOC also won a $1.3 million wage discrimination judgment against the company for disability-based wage discrimination--bringing the total judgment to $241.3 million.

In Irvine, La Habra, and Laguna Beach, California, contact Vincent Howard today for a free consultation about your California disability employment rights.

Jury Awards $240 Million for Long-Term Abuse of Workers with Intellectual Disabilities, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release, 5-1-13

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)

Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act

California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC)

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Fair Employment and Housing Act

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