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Ryan Pitkin, Queen City Nerve (USA)

USA: Farm labour contractors ordered to pay USD102,000 & change workplace policy following allegations of trafficking & wage theft


“North Carolina Farmworkers Settle in Human Trafficking, Wage Theft Suit”

Three North Carolina farmworkers have reached a settlement worth more than $100,000 in a suit against their former employers that included disturbing allegations of human trafficking and wage theft carried out against migrant workers.

The defendants in this case — farm labor contractors José M. Gracia Harvesting, Inc.; José M. Gracia; and Gracia & Sons, LLC, identified together in court documents as the Gracia defendants — are now required to pay the plaintiffs $102,500 plus attorneys’ fees and costs…

The plaintiffs, all women who were employed through the federal H-2A visa program, allege that, during their employment with the Gracia defendants, they were paid for only a fraction of the long hours they worked cooking meals for farmworkers while being subjected to poor and abusive working conditions.

The plaintiffs allege agents of the Gracia defendants recruited them from Mexico to work for defendants in North Carolina as farmworkers, according to Monday’s release. The plaintiffs said they incurred significant debts for their visas and travel and, upon arrival in North Carolina, learned they were required to work in the defendants’ kitchens preparing and selling food while the male H-2A workers earned higher wages working in the field…