In the order, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi cited examples of physical abuse, exploitation, and barbaric security measures at Maui Pineapple Company’s historic pineapple plantations and old worker dormitories where the Thai workers were forced to live and other abuses throughout Hawaii.
Judge Kobayashi stated that “Global Horizons subjected the Claimants to physical and verbal harassment based on Claimants’ race and/or national origin in order to secure the Claimants’ compliance and obedience.” Judge Kobayashi’s order also states that discriminatory “disparate treatment of Thai workers was Global Horizons’ standard operating procedure.”
In his statement, Shegerian warned that racial discrimination in the workplace is more common than many realize and can and should lead to litigious scenarios that can become potentially devastating to the employer.
“This case may seem to be a particularly extreme and shocking example, but it serves as a sobering reminder that some US companies continue to practice racial discrimination and treat some employees different than others based upon ethnic origin,” said Shegerian. “This case helps to serve notice that businesses anywhere in our country simply cannot treat their employees this way. To do so is illegal, and could lead to dramatic fiscal and public relations consequences.”
The EEOC initially filed this suit against Global Horizons and six farms in Hawaii in April 2011 alleging a pattern and practice of national origin and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation against Thai farm workers who were brought into the U.S. to work under the H2-A visa program.
The claim detailed that high recruitment fees created a great debt for the Thai workers who faced abuses on the farms such as slapping, punching, humiliation, heavy surveillance and threats of being shot, deported or arrested.
With Judge Kobayashi’s order in favor of the EEOC, the trial is now set for Nov. 18 to determine the amount of money that Global Horizons will pay for the abuses suffered by the Thai workers, as well as the measures that Global will need to implement to prevent future abuses.
An experienced trial attorney and Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner for 2013, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. His remarkable success rate is highlighted by over 68 jury trial wins, including 28 seven and eight figure verdicts representing employees.
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