The EEOC, champion for the everyman, has taken on one of its biggest cases yet against Global Horizons, a Beverly Hills-based labor contractor.
In one of the most astonishing accounts of human trafficking the U.S. staffing industry has ever seen, the EEOC alleges that between 2003 and 2007, Global Horizons lured 200 Thai men to the States with the promise of temporary visas and high wages working on farms in Washington and Hawaii.
Instead the men were stripped of their identification and threatened upon arrival. Most had already given their life savings to the labor contractor in order to fulfill Global Horizons’ $25,000 “recruitment fee” and could not afford to return home.
Once on the job, the men were subject to constant abuse, starvation, and humiliation. They lived in squalor inside rat-infested houses. Many slept curled up on dirty floors.
The farms partook in the depravation of the workers, who were never even given the hourly wage that was initially promised to them.
Luckily someone was looking out for the workers. The Thai Community Development Center in Los Angeles brought victims to the EEOC to file charges of discrimination.
Now the EEOC is seeing to it that these men will get their day in court. But apologies aren’t what these workers are after. Instead, they are seeking $300,000 each on top of back pay, according to the lawsuit that was filed last week in Hawaii.
The landmark case is now the largest farm labor trafficking case on record.
By all outwardly appearances, Global Horizons advertises itself as a compassionate firm dedicated to the betterment of workers in foreign countries. According to the company website, Horizons “understands the aspirations of countless workers who dream of having better jobs in better places, but who wish to return to their country of native origin when they’ve completed the job.”
If not for vigilantes like the Thai Community Development Center, these men may have never gotten that chance.