Photo: Farm Workers in Yakima Valley Win $2 Million After Employers Allegedly Violated Federal Labor Laws
Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled that hundreds of Latino farm workers are to be awarded their share of a $2 million settlement after two employers violated Washington state’s Farm Labor Contractor Act (FLCA).
The lawsuit claimed that nearly 600 Yakima Valley farm workers with Valley Fruit in Wapato and Green Acres in Harrah allegedly lost their jobs in 2004 when temporary workers were brought in from Thailand.
Under the FLCA, guest workers are allowed to be brought in from other countries if the employers can prove they cannot find workers locally. However, the lawsuit claims the employers hired Global Horizons to bring in foreign workers, and almost 600 local farm workers were fired and replaced with 175 temporary workers. The farms claim all the local employees were either let go with just cause or quit on their own accord.
Wednesday’s court ruling stated that each worker should receive between $350 and $3,000, though lawyers in the case believe the ruling is likely to be appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court.