Oklahoma Farm Settles Guestworker Lawsuit Over Underpaid Wages & Poor Housing

Sarah Donaldson, Attorney * 210-212-3704 or 203-907-5300 * sdonaldson@trla.org

STRATFORD, Oklahoma – January 8, 2013 – Peach Crest Farms, LLC has settled a lawsuit filed by four Mexican guestworkers over abuses suffered while the workers were employed on the Stratford-based farm.

Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) and Hammons, Gowens, Hurst, and Associates, the workers argued that they were brought to the United States for agricultural work only to be housed in an environment with substandard heating and cooling, bedding, and access to water. According to the lawsuit, filed in April 2012, Peach Crest failed to pay the guestworkers for every hour worked, paid below the required guestworker minimum wage, and failed to reimburse the workers for travel. The workers also alleged that they were subjected to verbal abuse and fired without cause.

“I’m glad I stood up for my rights,” said Samuel Ortega-Ramirez, one of workers involved in the case. “I hope this shows that guestworkers have the right to work under the terms they were promised.”

Peach Crest brought the workers to the United States using the H-2A guestworker visa program that allows employers to hire foreign workers if domestic labor cannot be found. The program also provides legal protections for their rights to safe housing, transportation, and adequate wages.

“Abusive employers will have to answer for their actions,” added TRLA attorney Sarah Donaldson. “Abusing the guestworker program and its workers gives unscrupulous growers an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.”

To view a copy of the original complaint, click here.

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. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texans by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services. For more information, visit http://www.trla.org.


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