Many Indiana residents may remember hearing the story about the turkey processing facility in Iowa that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused of violating several of its workers employee rights. According to the EEOC, a group of 32 men, who suffered from intellectual disabilities, were taken advantage of by Henry’s Turkey Service because the men were likely not aware of the extent to which their legal rights were being denied.
When the EEOC picked up the men’s case, it presented evidence that suggested that Henry’s Turkey Service participated in disability discrimination and exploited the men for nearly 20 years. Following a September 2012 order from a disctrict court judge that ordered the turkey-processing plant to pay the men $1.3 million for unlawful disability-based wage discrimination, another jury has awarded the EEOC with a $240 million verdict fior damages in the case.
To date, this is the largest verdict in the federal agency’s history. “This historic verdict marks one of the EEOC’s finest moments in its ongoing efforts to combat employment discrimination,” explains EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
The EEOC noted in their evidence that the men suffered not only verbal abuse but physical abuse as well. Some of the men described events in which they were kicked, hit, and even handcuffed in one case. The EEOC also noted that the living conditions for these men were “deplorable and sub-standard” and that many times the company failed to provided adequate medical care when it was needed.
Although this incidence occurred in another state, many people here in Indiana know that this easily could have happened here. Because despite the Americans With Disabilities Act and numerous federal laws that protect employees from discrimination, there are still those employers who willfully violate the laws, all at the expense of their employees.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Jury Awards $240 Million for Long-Term Abuse of Workers with Intellectual Disabilities,” May 1, 2013