Seattle — Two Eastern Washington fruit growers and the labor contractor they used to bring legal Thai workers to their farms three years ago have been ordered to pay $1.8 million to some 600 Yakima Valley farmworkers - some of them illegal immigrants - who claim they were displaced.
A federal judge this week found Los Angeles-based Global Horizons, and growers Valley Fruit Orchards of Wapato and Green Acre Farms of Harrah, both in Yakima County, Wash., in violation of state and federal labor laws, including willfully withholding wages and failing to provide information in Spanish about available jobs.
The ruling entitles each farmworker to damages ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.
In the class-action suit filed two years ago, the farmworkers claimed they were either not hired, or hired and later fired, by Global. They further claimed they were displaced by 170 workers Global imported from Thailand under a federal guest-worker program.