$1.2 Million Settlement in Farmworker National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Against Del Monte, Training Ordered

 
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
 
Question:  Would national origin discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.
Del Monte Fresh Produce, one of the country's leading producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, has agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed in Hawaii against its Hawaii subsidiary by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  

As part of the settlement, Del Monte Fresh Produce will pay $1.2 million to be distributed to the Thai claimants in the EEOC's case.  In addition, Del Monte Fresh Produce has partnered with the EEOC to champion and ensure equal employment rights and opportunities by setting an example for the U.S. farming industry. 

Specifically, Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to institute comprehensive protocols and accountability measures to ensure that all farm labor contractors that work with Del Monte Fresh Produce comply with federal laws against discrimination and retaliation.  This is the first effort of its kind for a farm to ensure farm labor contractor accountability for federal anti-discrimination laws. 

Among other things, Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to:
  • Establish procedures to ensure that farm labor contractors (FLCs) disseminate policies and procedures prohibiting discrimination to their local work force and to H2-A guest workers in a language they understand;
  • Establish mechanisms for FLCs to provide notices to workers about their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Disseminate notices to all workers, including FLC and Del Monte Fresh Produce employees alike, on methods for submitting discrimination complaints;
  • Conduct audits to ensure FLC compliance with the consent decree throughout its term;
  • Designate  a compliance officer for oversight of FLC compliance and Title VII compliance as required under the consent decree;
  • Train managers, supervisors, and employees on their obligations under Title VII; and
  • Report to the EEOC and keep records.
Del Monte Fresh Produce's Hawaii subsidiary is one of the first farms to resolve its case with the EEOC.  The EEOC originally filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii in April 2011, charging that Global Horizons, a labor contractor responsible for recruiting the Thai workers, and various farm defendants engaged in conduct that constituted national origin and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation in their treatment of farm workers recruited from Thailand from 2003 through 2006.  Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In its suit (EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc. d/b/a Global Horizons Manpower, Inc., Case No. CV-11-00257-LEK-RLP), the EEOC named not only the recruitment company, Global Horizons, but also the following six farms in Hawaii: Del Monte Fresh Produce's Hawaii subsidiary; Captain Cook Coffee Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Kelena Farms, MacFarms of Hawaii, and Maui Pineapple Farms.

The EEOC named Del Monte Fresh Produce's Hawaii subsidiary, which contracted with Global for approximately three years ending in 2005 to tend pineapple fields the subsidiary leased on the island of Oahu.  For its service obligations to the subsidiary, Global hired farm laborers that it trained and supervised.  Those workers brought in from Thailand and placed at the various farms, the EEOC charged, were mistreated and discriminated against by Global on the subsidiary's farm.

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  
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