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31 Mar 2014

Matthew Heller, Mint Press News

Thai Workers Claim Vindication In Long Battle With Farm Labor Contractor

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...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.