A federal court in Hawaii has dismissed in part a complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against farmers and a recruiting company that allegedly mistreated Thai workers. EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., No. 11-00257 DAE-RLP (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Hawaii, decided November 8, 2012). The court granted the motion to dismiss “insofar as the Court holds that a 300-day limitations period applies to claims brought by Plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-6” relating to allegations of pattern or practice of discriminatory treatment because of national origin, race, retaliation, and/or constructive discharge. The remainder of the claims, to the extent they did not involve unlawful employment practices allegedly occurring more than 300 days before a charge was filed with EEOC, are not time-barred and will proceed.
EEOC alleges that defendant Global Horizon promised Thai men temporary visas to work high-paying agricultural jobs in the United States, but took their passports, provided substandard housing and threatened them with physical violence. Among other matters, the court determined that EEOC had sufficiently alleged a hostile work environment, including harassment, intimidation, and hostile and abusive conduct by Global Horizon employees. The litigation involves farms owned and operated by Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., Captain Cook Coffee Co. Ltd., Kauai Coffee Co. Inc., Kelena Farms Inc., Mac Farms of Hawaii LLC, Maui Pineapple Co. Ltd., Alexander & Baldwin Inc., and Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA Inc.