Del Monte compensates Thai workers
Reuters reported in November 2013 that Del Monte Fresh Produce had agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a federal lawsuit that Thai workers in Hawaii were stripped of their passports, denied pay and given substandard living quarters. According to the report proceeds from the settlement would be split among roughly 150 Thai workers for Del Monte on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed in Hawaii in 2011 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, the commission said in a statement.
The suit accused recruitment company Global Horizons of Beverly Hills, California, 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. The company ceased operations in Hawaii in 2006.
The EEOC said that the company had agreed to abide by a set of federally approved guidelines at its farms throughout the United States. Those included establishing procedures to hold the company's farm labour contractors accountable for preventing discrimination, and for informing workers about their rights.
One Thai worker in the civil case, Theim Chaiyajit, said in a statement he worked at a Del Monte farm in 2003 and was promised $9.25 an hour but was never paid. He had to fish to feed himself and was crammed into an apartment with 11 other Thai workers, he said.
Aside from substandard living conditions, workers were stuck with debts of between $15,000 and $30,000 in recruitment fees. Others in the group also had their passports taken and were never paid.
The Del Monte workers in question were recruited in two waves, one in 2003 and one in 2005.
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