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6 May 2016

Mateusz Perkowski, Capital Press (USA)

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

"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]