The High Court of England and Wales has reportedly held DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services liable for claims brought by six Lithuanian men who allege they were victims of trafficking. The company lost its license after police raids in 2012 found what the Gangmasters Licensing Authority called “the worst UK gangmaster ever.” The men assert that during their employment catching chickens for the company, they were denied sleep and toilet breaks, charged illegal work-finding fees, abused and assaulted, denied minimum wages and provided dirty, overcrowded and unsafe living quarters. The owners of the company argued that a Lithuanian supervisor was at fault for the treatment, but the court reportedly found that the supervisor’s methods were integral to business operations, leaving the company liable for his actions.
The attorney representing the Lithuanian men told The Guardian, “This is the first time a British company has been found liable for victims of trafficking and it is going to make a world of difference to our clients. It should be seen as a warning shot to businesses that they need to make sure modern slavery is eradicated from their supply chains.” See The Guardian and BBC, June 10, 2016.