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West // West Oahu Coverstory
MidWeek Staff

Lawsuit Involving Area Farm Settled

Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to pay $1.2 million in damages to settle a 2011 discrimination lawsuit filed in Hawaii that claimed that immigrant workers from Thailand were being mistreated at the company’s Kunia farmlands between 2003 and 2006.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 workers against Global Horizons, a mainland labor contractor, and six Hawaii farms, including Del Monte Fresh Produce, MacFarms of Hawaii, Kalena Farms, Captain Cook Coffee Company, Maui Pineapple Co. and Kauai Coffee Company.

Workers allegedly were victims of racial discrimination and harassment, and specific complaints of inadequate housing, withheld wages and other mistreatments have been reported.

Del Monte Fresh Produce, which ceased Hawaii operations in 2006, has agreed to a number of reforms and policy changes as part of the settlement. These proposed changes are the first by any farm to keep farm labor contractors accountable to federal anti-discrimination laws.

The other Hawaii-based farms have settled with EEOC, with the exception of Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Co., which have February trial dates.

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