Perhaps this is the coda to the story of Henry’s Boys — perhaps not.
Readers no doubt recall Henry’s Turkey — the poster bird for the abuse of intellectually disabled employees. We wrote about the legal case on behalf of these disabled employees many times — as recently as last week (see below).
Dan Barry in today’s New York Times reports that four of Henry’s Boys, including the fellow who he spotlighted in the Times last week (and we reported about), were removed from their spare and primitive bunkhouse by social services, “and their treatment is now being investigated by various local, state and federal agencies.”
The Legal Case Against Henry’s
To recap (hopefully for the last time), on May 3, 2013 we reported about the $240,000,000 jury verdict against Henry’s Turkey Service (later reduced) where: ”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.”
The NYT’s Description Of The Conditions At Henry’s
Last week’s piece by Dan Barry highlighted one of “Henry’s boys,” who, when he was 18:
“was selected to live and learn basic skills at a ranch in Texas’ Hill Country. The operation, Henry’s Turkey Service, trained Mr. Jones and dozens of other young men like him — including his brother — in the artificial insemination of turkeys: namely, to catch and milk the toms, and rush the semen to the henhouse.
The men became proficient in this dirty job, and a demand developed for their services. Gradually, the company dispatched crews to work at turkey plants in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina, moving employees around like chess pawns to meet the needs of clients.
Most of the operations eventually closed, leaving only a bunkhouse in Atalissa, Iowa, where Carl Wayne Jones wound up, and one here in Newberry [South Carolina], where Leon Jones landed.
The owners of Henry’s Turkey Service maintained that they had taken in men whom no one else wanted. They paid them a subminimum wage under a federal law — one they abused — that permits lower wages for people with disabilities, based on productivity. They deducted most of the men’s earnings to cover room, board and other expenses. And they allowed their Atalissa bunkhouse to descend into squalor, neglect and abuse.”