LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of its national origin and race discrimination case against defendants Green Acre Farms, Inc. and Valley Fruit Orchards, LLC. The settlement encompasses monetary relief and injunctive relief remedies.
The EEOC initially filed the Title VII lawsuit in April 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc. d/b/a Global Horizons Manpower, Inc., Green Acre Farms, Inc., Valley Fruit Orchards, LLC., et al, Case No. 11-CV-3045-RMP). A default judgment was previously awarded against Global Horizons, the company that provided farm labor services and supplied H-2A guest workers from Thailand to Green Acre and Valley Fruit. The two farms—Green Acre and Valley Fruit—remain as the only defendants left in the case.
The EEOC’s claims against the Green Acre and Valley Fruit farms were initially dismissed on summary judgment by the District Court, which also awarded both farms their fees and costs of litigation. The EEOC appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit overturned the award of fees and costs and reversed and remanded the case back to the District Court. On remand, the District Court again dismissed the EEOC’s claims on summary judgment, and the Court granted the farm defendants’ second motion for fees. The EEOC again appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
The case resolved for a total payment of $325,000.00 which will be distributed among 105 Thai farm workers who were placed at the two farms by Global Horizons, the farm labor contractor. Additionally, Green Acre and Valley Fruit agreed to implement injunctive relief including accountability measures over farm labor contractors, training, review of policies and procedures, and reporting. The farms have denied liability at all times during the action.
“Employers are encouraged to monitor and ensure farm labor contractors comply with EEO laws because Title VII obligations are non-delegable to third parties,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office.
Rosa Viramontes, director of EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “Assisting vulnerable workers is one of Chair Janet Dhillon’s priorities for 2020 and remains a priority for the EEOC.”
Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan. These policies can include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment and human trafficking.
EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.