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Staffing agencies settle EEOC charges of abuse against Latinos

Posted On: Feb. 20, 2019 1:07 PM CST

Poultry processing plant

Four staffing agencies under common ownership have agreed to pay $475,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that charges them with abusing Latino workers in an Alabama poultry processing plant.

The EEOC said Tuesday that Lewisburg, West Virginia-based East Coast Labor Solutions, East Coast Labor Solutions of West Virginia, Labor Solutions and Labor Solutions of Alabama recruited Latino workers to work in a Guntersville, Alabama, poultry processing plant and subjected them to harassment including ethnic slurs, threats and other verbal abuse, and other abusive working conditions.

The EEOC said the workers were paid less money than promised, placed in more hazardous positions, denied bathroom and lunch breaks and given fewer hours of work than their non-Latino counterparts.

In addition, the EEOC charged that East Coast Labor deducted exorbitant relocation, housing and transportation fees from their pay, and that the firm did nothing to address the workers’ complaints.

The EEOC said also the workers were denied medical treatment and other accommodations such as breaks when they suffered repetitive motion injuries to their hands, forearms and shoulders.

The staffing agencies were charged with violating Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires the staffing agencies to provide training to their employees on their obligations under the law, among other terms.

“We cannot allow any employer to prey on vulnerable workers by recruiting them and then subjecting them to such gross mistreatment,” said Marsha L. Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham, Alabama, district office, in a statement. “These workers only wanted the opportunity to work and receive a fair wage like they were promised and to work in a safe and humane environment. All workers should be treated this way, regardless of their national origin.”

The staffing agencies’ attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

In August, a poultry supplier agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle an EEOC lawsuit that charged it with sexual harassment, national origin and racial discrimination, and retaliation against a class of Hispanic workers in its Mississippi chicken processing plant.