Global Horizons lawsuits (re forced labour)

Hawaii coffee By: Christopher Michel, Creative commonsOn 1 September 2010, a US federal grand jury in Hawaii indicted four employees of Global Horizons Manpower (Global Horizons), a US-based labour recruiting company, and two Thailand-based recruiters on charges of forced labour.  The US Justice Department’s criminal charges allege the defendants brought hundreds of Thai workers to the US from 2001 to 2007 to work on farms across the country and conspired to hold these workers in forced labour.  The indictment alleges that the defendants caused the workers to believe that if they did not work for the defendants, they could be arrested and deported.  The defendants allegedly confiscated the Thai nationals’ passports after their arrival in the US.  Three defendants pleaded guilty in June 2011.  On 20 July 2012, a federal judge dismissed the case, after the prosecutors requested dismissal because they believed they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

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 Pineapplesliable 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.


- "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
- "Human Trafficking Case Against Executives Is Dismissed", Associated Press, 21 Jul 2012 
- “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
- “Kaua'i Coffee named in human trafficking lawsuit”, Vanessa Van Voorhis, The Garden Island, 20 Apr 2011
- “Indictment Accuses Firm of Exploiting Thai Workers”, Julia Preston, New York Times, 3 Sept 2010

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 Department of Justice:
- “Three Defendants Plead Guilty in Honolulu in Connection with Human Trafficking Scheme that Exploited 600 Thai Workers”, 15 Jun 2011
- “Six People Charged in Human Trafficking Conspiracy for Exploiting 400 Thai Farm Workers”, 2 Sep 2010

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

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6 May 2016

USA: Global Horizons still owes $7.7 million to Thai workers after being held responsible for their exploitation

Author: Mateusz Perkowski, Capital Press (USA)

"Labor contractor held liable for $7.7 million", 4 May 2014

A labor contractor owes nearly $7.7 million to foreign guestworkers for committing "malicious" labor law violations, but the federal government faces new challenges in collecting the money.

Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Shea in Spokane, Wash., has ordered Global Horizons to pay 67 Thai farmworkers roughly $20,000 for each month they were employed under the H-2A visa program...
The compensatory and punitive damages were based on abuses for which the judge held Global Horizons responsible, such as forcing them to live in "virtually uninhabitable" housing, threatening to send them back to Thailand for complaining, and subjecting them to insults...

The California-based labor contractor was initially accused of criminal human trafficking charges by the federal government more than five years ago.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] also pursued civil litigation against the company for alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation against the workers, who were worked on farms in Washington and Hawaii.

The criminal charges against the company's owner, Mordechai Orian, and several managers were dropped in 2012 because the government admitted it could not prove the human trafficking allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC, said the U.S. Department of Justice was still in the process of trying to enforce an $8.7 million judgment entered against Global Horizons by a federal judge in Hawaii...[Also refers to Green Acre Farms, Valley Fruit Orchards]

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2 May 2016

Federal Judge Awards EEOC $7,658,500 in Case Against Farm Labour Contractor Global Horizons

Author: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

A federal judge has ordered farm labour contractor Global Horizons, Inc. to pay $7,658,500 for a pattern or practice of subjecting Thai farmworkers in the state of Washington to a hostile work environment, harassment and discrimination in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea found that Global's discriminatory practices were "reprehensible" and vindicated the Thai farmworkers who suffered from "fear, anxiety, anger, intimidation, humiliation, shame, and ... an unrelenting sense of imprisonment."...Judge Shea ordered punitive damages here based on a specific finding that Global's discriminatory conduct was "clearly and convincingly" "malicious and with reckless disregard" of these farmworkers' "federally protected rights … health and safety, ethnicity, and financial vulnerability." EEOC initially filed suit against Global Horizons and two Yakima, Wash., farms in April 2011, charging a pattern or practice of national origin and race discrimination, harassment, constructive discharge and retaliation against the Thai farmworkers, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964...

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27 April 2016

Farm labour contractor ordered to pay millions for mistreating Thai guest workers in Yakima Valley

Author: Wendy Culverwell, Tri-City Herald (USA)

A Beverly Hills farm labour contractor that brought Thai citizens to the U.S. to work in Yakima Valley orchards is liable for nearly $7.7 million for violating their civil rights...Tuesday, U. S. District Judge Edward Shea entered a default judgment against Global Horizons and its co-defendants providing between $40,000 and $210,000 to 67 Thai workers who suffered discrimination, harassment, threats of financial ruin, arrest and other mistreatment while working on Global Horizon’s farm contracts. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Global Horizons and the orchards it worked for in 2011 under the federal Civil Rights Act on the Thai workers' behalf...The EEOC had no comment on the ruling. An attorney for the co-defendants was not available to comment...Shea wrote that the company acted without regard for the health and safety of the workers and said they were targeted for their ethnicity and financial vulnerability....



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4 September 2014

Federal judge OKs $2.4M settlement between Hawaii farms and Thai workers

Author: Pacific Business News (USA)

A federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday approved settlements totaling $2.4 million between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and four Hawaii farms in a discrimination lawsuit that alleged the farms exploited some 500 Thai farm workers...Mac Farms of Hawaii LLC, now known as MF Nut Co. LLC, will pay $1.6 million; Kauai Coffee Co. Inc., now known as McBryde Resources Inc., will pay $425,000; Kelena Farms Inc. will pay $275,000; and Captain Cook Coffee Co. Ltd. will pay $100,000 directly to the victims...In addition, Kelena Farms...offered workers full-time jobs with benefits, and Captain Cook Coffee offered workers seasonal jobs with benefits, transportation and housing, according to the EEOC, which will monitor the terms of the job offers...Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Co. remain the only defendants in the case...

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3 June 2014

4 Hawaii farms settle Thai workers suit for $2.4M [USA]

Author: Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

Four Hawaii farms are settling a discrimination lawsuit for a total of $2.4 million over allegations that they exploited hundreds of Thai workers…The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 against California-based labor contractor Global Horizons and six Hawaii farms, with allegations including subjecting workers to discrimination, uninhabitable housing, insufficient food, inadequate wages and deportation threats…Mac Farms of Hawaii...Kelena Farms...Captain Cook Coffee...and Kauai Coffee…Del Monte Fresh Produce [have settled]...Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Co., the last farm that hasn’t settled, are scheduled to go to trial in November…[Now-defunct] Global Horizons…said...“It’s a baseless case.”…

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31 March 2014

Thai Workers Claim Vindication In Long Battle With Farm Labor Contractor

Author: Matthew Heller, Mint Press News

...Between 2003 and 2006, Orian shipped about 1,100 Thai nationals to such employers as Maui Pineapple Co., Del Monte Fresh Produce and Kauai Coffee Co. under the U.S. Department of Labor’s agricultural guest-worker program…

In April 2006, Laphit Khadthan and Marut Kongpia, two of the Thai farm workers contracted out by Global Horizons, filed charges of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, initiating what the agency has called the largest human trafficking case related to agriculture in U.S. history.

A criminal trafficking indictment against Orian was dismissed in 2012, but, earlier this month, a Hawaii judge found Global Horizons liable for discrimination in a civil lawsuit brought by the EEOC in 2011, saying the company’s managers subjected workers to physical and verbal abuse that included punching some of them in the face, calling them “animals” and providing meals consisting only of rice and a piece of pineapple or a hard-boiled egg…

The finding of liability against Global Horizons “vindicates the rights of the multitude of Thai farm workers who survived inhumane abuses and discrimination” and serves as a warning to employers who exploit workers “based on illegal stereotyping due to race or the country they come from,” Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district, said in a statement.

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19 November 2013

Del Monte Fresh Produce agrees to compensate Thai workers - commission

Author: Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters

Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a federal lawsuit contending Thai workers in Hawaii were stripped of their passports, denied pay and given substandard living quarters…Proceeds from the settlement will be split among roughly 150 Thai workers for Del Monte on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed…The suit accused recruitment company Global Horizons…, and six growers including Del Monte, of discriminating against the pineapple farm workers on the basis of their national origin, and of harassment and retaliation against those who complained. Del Monte…was the first business in the case to settle the complaint, although it denied any wrongdoing, said Anna Park, a regional attorney for the EEOC in Los Angeles…Tentative agreements have been reached with four other growers, she added.

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29 October 2012

[PDF] Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin - Issue 7

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

[Full text of October 2012 issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. Refers to lawsuits against adidas, Amesys (part of Bull), Anadarko, Anglo Platinum (part of Anglo American), Areva, Blackwater, BP, CACI, Cameron International, Chevron, Copper Mesa Mining, Curacao Drydock, DynCorp, Esmor Correctional Services (part of Correctional Services Corporation), Ford, Global Horizons, Halliburton, L-3, PA Child Care, Paladin, Shell, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Transocean.]

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26 October 2011

Federal Judge Throws Out Discrimination Complaint Against Six Hawaii Farms

Author: Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter

U.S. District Judge David Ezra dismissed a complaint today filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 20, 2011, against six Hawaii farms, saying the government agency that is charged with prohibiting employment discrimination has not been specific enough in its allegations. He gave the agency's Los Angeles-based attorneys 45 days to refile its lawsuit and one more chance to get their filing right. The Hawaii farms named in the complaint, including Captain Cook Coffee Company, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee Company, Kelena Farms, MacFarms of Hawaii, and Maui Pineapple Farms, all contracted with the Los Angeles-based Global Horizons Manpower Company…to bring in workers from Thailand to work on their farms. Six Global Horizons employees were indicted criminally in September 2010…in what justice officials said was the biggest human-trafficking case ever brought by federal authorities.

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10 October 2011

[video] Slavery: A 21st Century Evil - Food chain slaves

Author: Rageh Omaar, Al Jazeera

The US has been leading the global fight against modern slavery. But, according to conservative estimates, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 slaves in the US today. [T]his episode...questions why a nation built on the abolition of slavery - a country that had to go through a painful civil war to formally bring an end to slavery - is failing to address the problem inside its own borders. The investigation begins in the poor villages of Thailand, where agents for the US slave masters trick desperate peasants with promises of well-paid jobs abroad. But far from fulfilling their American dream, many end up in slave labour farms in Hawaii, California and Florida - unable to return home and working to pay off the debts they incurred in the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. [refers to Aloun Farms, Global Horizons]

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