2 Washington State Agribusinesses Settle Federal Discrimination Suit for $325K

September 7, 2020

Two agribusinesses in Washington state will distribute $325,000 among 105 Thai farm workers to settle a federal national origin and race discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the settlement with defendants Green Acre Farms Inc. and Valley Fruit Orchards LLC, both based in Wapato, Washington, 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).

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 — remained 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, according to the EEOC.

The farms have denied liability at all times during the action.

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