BROWNSVILLE, Texas – February 15, 2013 – Seventeen Rio Grande Valley migrant farmworkers have filed a lawsuit against Iowa’s Monsanto Company and three individuals over false promises of employment, unpaid wages, and unsanitary living and working conditions. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the workers and seven young children.
Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the workers claim that they traveled from the Rio Grande Valley to Boone, Iowa in the summer of 2011 after being recruited to work for Monsanto. When they arrived in Iowa, work was not available as promised and many were left penniless. When work did become available, the migrant workers were not provided with suitable working conditions, such as safe drinking water. Though the crew was promised housing as a part of their employment, the workers were forced into unsanitary arrangements and threatened with eviction if they did not pay rent.
“They traveled more than 1,000 miles based on false promises,” said TRLA attorney Marinda van Dalen. “They lived in vermin-infested homes and had to struggle to feed their families. Children as young as four-years-old were forced to live in a flooded basement apartment.”
The workers are suing under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, state law, and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act. The laws provide protections for migrant farmworkers, establish a federal minimum wage, and entitle workers to unpaid wages.
Added van Dalen, “These workers were lied to, taken advantage of, and underpaid. Companies cannot treat people like this – the law won’t allow it.”
A copy of the lawsuit can be found online at www.trla.org/press/docs/mst.pdf.
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.