Texas Company Owes $1.3 M For What Amounts To Modern Day Wage Slavery

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Wage Slaves

In a shameful and disheartening case of pure exploitation, a U.S. District Court judge in Iowa has ruled that a Texas company, Hill Country Farms, Inc. (dba Henry’s Turkey Service), must pay $1.3 million in wages to 32 intellectually disabled workers who were unfairly underpaid for a period of two years.

EEOC Files Lawsuit for Wage Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Hill Country Farms for wage discrimination, alleging that the company paid these workers a wage significantly lower than non-intellectually disabled workers performing the same or similar work. The workers in this case worked on an evisceration line, getting paid $65 per week rather than the average $11-12 per hour, a wage less than the minimum wage in Iowa.

Workers Were Competent

In a clear case of financial exploitation of a vulnerable class of workers, the court was given evidence by West Liberty Foods, a separate company that contracted with Hill Country Farms for the services of the workers in question, demonstrating that they paid Hill Country Farms $11,000 per week for these services while the workers themselves were only paid $15 per week each by Hill Country Farms. A West Liberty Foods supervisor, in a statement provided to the court, testified that the contracted workers were just as productive as the other workers in the plant and that they even trained replacement workers when the company was closing up its operations.

Company Assumed Workers Would Never Complain

Deducting nearly $1,000 per month from the workers’ wages, Hill Country Farms claimed it was entitled to a credit against the wages it now owes because it provided room and board for the workers. The “room,” it turns out, was a 100 year-old schoolhouse that was ultimately shut down by the fire marshal as unsafe. Witnesses and company supervisors provided evidence that the accommodations were bug and rat infested, with inadequate heating and a leaking roof. Workers were verbally abused and physically harassed. Company officers evidently assumed that these workers would never complain.

The EEOC must now figure out a way to collect the money. Iowa Workforce Development has an outstanding fine of $1.2 million against Henry’s Turkey Service for state workplace violations. The trial on the abuse issues is scheduled for March 2013.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption