Law­suit In­volv­ing Area Farm Set­tled

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - Front Page -

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.

Zack Note (right) hands a dona­tion to Deb­o­rah Taaga and Ch­eryl­rangi­marie Pon­afala of Light­house Out­reach Center Nov. 23 dur­ing Cut­ter Buick - GMC in Waipahu’s Philip­pines Dis­as­ter Fund Drive. Part­ner­ing with the center, Cut­ter sought do­na­tions from mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans who passed by. The fundraiser is part of an on­go­ing ef­fort at Cut­ter. The weekend prior to this event, it raised $15,000 along with 18 truck­loads of food and sup­plies to be sent to the Philip­pines. See more pho­tos on Page 6. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo, ltabudlo@mid­week.com.

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