06/02/2013 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Clouse Dunn LLP // Keith Clouse // (press release)
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently received the largest verdict in its history. A jury in Iowa awarded damages totaling $240 million for disability discrimination and severe abuse.
The jury found that Hill County Farms, doing business as Henry’s Turkey Service, subjected 32 men with intellectual disabilities to severe abuse and discrimination. The lawsuit centered on a period between 2007 and 2009, but the abuse allegedly occurred for approximately 20 years.
Each man was awarded $2 million in punitive damages and $5.5 million in compensatory damages. In September of last year, the judge ordered the company to pay the men $1.3 million for unlawful disability-based wage discrimination; the employer had paid the workers just $65 per month, instead of the average wage of $11-12 per hour which workers without intellectual disabilities typically earned for performing similar services.
The EEOC presented evidence that the employer took advantage of the workers and that the workers’ intellectual disabilities prevented them from understanding the extent to which their legal rights were being violated. Evidence showed that the workers were subjected to verbal and physical harassment and other harsh terms and conditions of employment.
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