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Foreign Workers in Hawaii Abused, Says Commission

Posted April 21, 2011, 09:34 AM HST Updated April 22, 2011, 02:48 PM HST
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By Wendy Osher

File Photo by Wendy Osher.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging foreign workers were subjected to abuse and discrimination at farms in Hawaii and in Washington.

The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office in Hawaii against Global Horizons, a labor broker that operates on six farms in the state.  A separate suit was filed in Washington against the same company, alleging they brought more than 200 Thai men into the country to work on farms.

A press release from the EEOC alleges the workers were employed “on the promises of high-paying wages and temporary visas.”  Once in the country, the suit alleges the workers had their passports confiscated and were threatened with deportation if they complained.

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“The EEOC is committed to the protection of all workers. The lawsuits we have filed today seek to remedy systemic discriminatory practices against a particularly vulnerable class of workers,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC. “When necessary, the EEOC will file such cases to protect victims of discrimination and ensure all workplaces comply with the law.”

The lawsuits were brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and national origin as well as retaliation.

*** Supporting information courtesy EEOC.

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