According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the US government has collected more than half of a $8.1 million court judgement awarded six years ago to a group of 54 Thai farmworkers who were abused while working on a Maui pineapple plantation.
The Justice and Treasury departments collected $4.8 million from Maui Pineapple and its entities, and the EEOC will distribute the money to the workers. The agencies will continue to collect funds owed the workers until the full judgment is satisfied.
A decade ago, the EEOC sued Global Horizons, a labor contractor, and six Hawaii farms. The lawsuit alleged workers were subjected to discrimination, uninhabitable housing, insufficient food, inadequate wages and deportation threats. Five farms settled for a total of $3.6 million. U.S. court in Honolulu in 2015 found the remaining farm that didn't settle — Maui Pineapple Co. — was jointly liable with Global Horizons for $8.1 million.
US District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled Global Horizon managers physically abused some workers. One manager told workers that anyone who ran away would be shot, deported or arrested. Workers were also not provided with sufficient food. A typical meal consisted of rice, a slice of pineapple, two hard-boiled eggs or a few pieces of bacon, the ruling said.
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