We wrote last week that the EEOC recently sued on behalf of vulnerable farm workers – one of the EEOC’s priorities. And we repeated what we had written before about the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”) intended to protect “vulnerable” workers, such as farm workers, migrant workers, workers in isolated areas, and mentally-challenged Henry’s Turkey workers.
It has now been reported by Veronica Huh in the Korea Bizwire that female migrant workers in Korea are similarly vulnerable to human rights violations and sexual abuse. It is not clear from the article, but we gleaned that these vulnerable workers predominantly come from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.
A study by a human right group found that “35.5 percent of the workers reported sexual assault, 35.5 percent unwanted physical contact, 29.0 percent involuntary drinking and physical contact at company gatherings for dinner and 12.9 percent forced prostitution. The data showed that assailants were mostly bosses (88.9%) or managers (77.8%). Even 16.7 percent were other employees from the same country.”
What recourse do these workers have?
Not much — “Language barriers first stop them from reporting. Even though some manage to report their experiences, there is lack of well-organized systems or organizations to help them. Some harassers even threaten them not to report by using their tenuous legal status in Korea.”
This is similar to what we have read from the EEOC about the “the plight of … vulnerable workers, who are often reluctant or unable to exercise their rights under the equal employment laws.”
This is no doubt a worldwide problem — of human rights, gender rights, and labor rights.