BROWNSVILLE, Texas – July 18, 2011 – Nearly three years after 91 migrant and seasonal farmworkers filed a federal lawsuit against Remington Hybrid Seed Company and Remington’s farm labor contractor Abel “Lalo” Mendoza, Jr., Remington paid out over $220,000 to settle the case and Mendoza has been ordered to pay the workers $337,000.
The workers were recruited in 2006, 2007, and 2008, to detassel corn in Remington’s fields in Indiana. The farmworkers were promised several weeks of work, free housing, free transportation, and free meals if they would make the journey from Texas and Illinois to Indiana to work in Remington’s corn fields.
Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the Migrant Farmworker Law Center of Indiana Legal Services, and the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project, the farmworkers claimed they were faced with deplorable housing conditions, given less work than promised, and no paid for all hours worked. Many were also retaliated against when they tried to assert their rights.
“These farmworkers stood together and demanded that they be paid for the work they did and that their rights be respected. Employers should know that if they violate workers’ rights, they will be held accountable,” stated lead attorney Stephanie Welch of TRLA.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas – Brownsville Division, alleged violations of the Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and breach of contract.
According to Melody Goldberg of the Migrant Farmworker Law Center in Indiana Legal Services, “This settlement is a win for all farmworkers and sends a message to companies that they will be held responsible for violating the law.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.