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19 Apr 2011

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Global Horizons lawsuit (re forced labour, civil proceedings)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
19 Apr 2011
Wanderarbeitnehmer & eingewanderte Arbeitnehmer
Ort der Einreichung: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Ort des Vorfalls: Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
Art des Rechtsstreits: Inländisch



Snapshot: In September 2010, the US Justice Department brough criminal charges against employees of Global Horizons Manpower (Global Horizons), a US-based recruiting company, on charges of forced labour alleging that the company brought hundred of Thai workers to the US from 2001 to 2007 to work on farms. The case was eventually dismissed after prosecutors believed they could not prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

In April 2011, The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed two related civil lawsuits: one in Hawaii against Global Horizons and six local farms, and one in Washington state against the same company and two local farms. In June 2014, some of the local farms announced that they had reached an out of court settlement. In December 2014, a federal judge ruled that Global Horizons and one Hawaii local farm were liable for $12.3 million in damages.

For criminal proceedings, see Global Horizons lawsuit (re forced labour, criminal proceedings)

Civil proceedings

In April 2011, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two related civil lawsuits.  The first was filed in Hawaii federal court against Global Horizons and six local farms (Captain Cook Coffee, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee, Kelena Farms, MacFarms of Hawaii and Maui Pineapple Farms).  The second lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington state against Global Horizons and two farms in that state (Green Acre Farms, Valley Fruit Orchards).  In these suits, EEOC alleges that Global Horizons trafficked over 200 men from Thailand between 2003 and 2007 to work at the farms in Washington and Hawaii.  The complaint alleges that the companies subjected Thai workers to mistreatment, intimidation, harassment and inhumane working conditions.  Between July and September 2011 the defendant farms in Hawaii filed motions to dismiss the suit, claiming EEOC had not alleged sufficient facts to support its claims.  In October 2011, EEOC requested a stay of the proceedings until after the completion of the Global Horizons criminal trial.  On 2 November 2011, the federal court dismissed the complaint filed against the six defendant farms but allowed that EEOC could re-file the claim. 

On 24 March 2014, a federal judge held Global Horizons and Maui Pineapples liable for discriminating and abusing hundreds of Thai workers.  In June 2014, the parties announced that Captain Cook Coffee, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee, Kelena Farms, and MacFarms of Hawaii had reached an out of court settlement.  In December 2014, in the district court of Hawaii, the judge ruled that Global Horizons and Maui Pineapples should pay $12.3 million in damages to 82 claimants.

On 26 April 2016, a federal judge ruled that Global Horizons should pay $7,658,500 in damages to the claimants that suffered discrimination, harassment and mistreatment.

In May 2021, the EEOC worked with the US Department of Justice and the Treasury Department and recovered $4.8 million to satisfy part of the judgment that will now be distributed to the 54 workers. The EEOC said it will continue its efforts to collect the rest of the judgment.

Further reading

-Former Maui Pineapple workers receive $4.8M after abuse case, Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press, 19 May 2021

- "Farm labor contractor ordered to pay millions for mistreating Thai guest workers in Yakima Valley", Wendy Culverwell, Tri City herald (USA), 27 Apr 2016
- "Judge rules on Thai Workers Reparation", Nelson Daranciang, Honolulu Star, 22 Dec 2014

- “Federal Judge Throws Out Discrimination Complaint Against Six Hawaii Farms”, Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter, 26 Oct 2011

- [video] “Food chain slaves”, Al Jazeera, 10 Oct 2011

- “U.S. Suits Say Farms Abused Thai Laborers”, Tamara Audi, Wall Street Journal, 21 Apr 2011

- “U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Files Lawsuit in Thai Human Trafficking case, but Defendants, Attorneys Question Timing, Motives”, Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter, 21 Apr 2011

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
- "Federal Judge Awards EEOC $7,658,500 in Case Against Farm Labor Contractor Global Horizons", 2 May 2016
- “EEOC Files Its Largest Farm Worker Human Trafficking Suit Against Global Horizons, Farms”, 20 Apr 2011

US District Court for the District of Hawaii:
- EEOC v. Global Horizons - Findings of facts and conclusions of law, 19 Dec 2014
EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., et al. – Order (1) Denying Defendants’ Motion to Strike; (2) Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss; (3) Granting Plaintiff Leave to Amend the Complaint; and (4) Denying Defendants’ Motion to Sever Without Prejudice, 16 Mar 2012
- [PDF] EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., et al. – Order (1) Granting Government’s Motion to Intervene; and (2) Granting in Part Government’s Motion to Stay, 13 Mar 2012
- [PDF] EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., et al. – Order, 2 Nov 2011
EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., et al. – Complaint, 19 Apr 2011