The New York Times just published a lengthy “front page center” piece by Dan Barry on the case of the intellectually disabled workers at Henry’s Turkey Service, the subject of the largest damage award in the history of the EEOC — $240,000,000 in a jury verdict. It’s titled “the ‘Boys’ In The Bunkhouse,” and is a heartbreaking story of “servitude, abuse and redemption in a tiny Iowa farm town,” as it is subtitled by the NYT.
A social worker who became the caretaker of many of these men in 2009 said that “It was like I just gave birth to 21 men.”
The case was also the subject of our post of May 3, 2013 in which we wrote:
“Intellectually disabled workers at Henry’s Turkey Service in Iowa were paid only $65 dollars per month eviscerating turkeys on an assembly line, we posted last September. In an ADA case brought by the EEOC, an expert witness said that the company exploited the workers because they had intellectual disabilities, and simply did not know better. She stated that the employer’s conduct “including acts of deliberate misrepresentation” about wages and expenditures, deprived the workers of “economic independence and self-sufficiency.” The company ‘took advantage of the workers … knowing that they would not likely be discovered because the workers were disabled.’
In addition to the discriminatory pay practices, the EEOC claimed that the disabled workers were abused verbally and physically, had their freedom unnecessarily restricted, were subject to harsh punishments, required to live collectively in substandard living conditions, and received inadequate health care.”
In a later post we noted that the award was reduced by the Court:
“it’s an early Thanksgiving for Henry – the EEOC just filed court papers in which it conceded that under the ADA the verdict must be reduced to $1.6 million. The ADA has a cap on damages: it limits compensatory and punitive damages to $50,000 if the company employs between 14 and 101 for 20 or more weeks during a calendar year.”