We have written before about the US EEOC targeting employers who are alleged to have harassed and/or discriminated against “the most vulnerable” workers, such as farm and non-English speaking workers, intellectually disabled workers (remember Henry’s Turkey?), teens, and female workers located in remote areas. In short, places where there are low status jobs and a signifuicant powere differential.
We also spotlighted a judgment in favor of Thai farmworkers in Hawaii.
EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said last October that “In its Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC made it a priority to protect workers who are the most vulnerable.” On October 8, 2013 we wrote:
“Last year we noted a number of cases brought by the EEOC against employers relating to harassment of farmworkers — the most vulnerable workers, according to the EEOC’s strategic enforcement plan. We quoted the EEOC general counsel in relation to the settlement of an ‘appalling’ sexual harassment suit: ‘It is one of the EEOC’s national priorities to combat discrimination against vulnerable workers, and we hope that this settlement sends a message to other employers that they need to be vigilant to prevent sexual harassment and other abuse. See also our post of November 20, 2013.
An interesting case from Canada just came to our attention involving just such a scenario.
A group of 55 African tree planters in a camp in British Columbia were awarded $600,000 for “injury to their dignity and self-respect” after they told the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal that “they were subjected to extreme racial harassment and other discrimination, were forced to live in deplorable conditions and eat rancid food.”
The camp itself was closed two years ago by the government when the employees complained that they had not eaten in two days.
Counsel for the workers stated: “I think this is the first case that we’re aware of in B.C. history where the human rights tribunal has done such a thorough analysis of anti-black racism. And the prevalence of that racism in the everydayness of it for people who have to endure it all the time.”