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Global Horizons lawsuits (re forced labour)

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.

 

On 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 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.

 

- "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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