By Associated Press - Tuesday, August 25, 2020

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Two farms in Washington state have agreed to pay $325,000 to settle accusations that they mistreated foreign guest workers.

Green Acre Farms and Valley Fruit Orchards of Yakima County have reached an agreement to end years of litigation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Capital Press reported. The dispute was over alleged discrimination against Thai workers hired through the H-2A program.

While a federal judge threw out the EEOC’s lawsuit twice previously, the agency has “remained committed to appealing and carrying this on,” said Beth Joffe, attorney for the farms.

“The growers decided they needed to stop the bleed, so to speak,” Joffe said.

The federal agency will seek to distribute the $325,000 to 105 former guest workers from Thailand and the farm operations must follow certain practices and policies regarding their workers.

Those injunctive terms are “an affirmation of what Green Acre Farms is doing and has been doing for many years,” Joffe said. Valley Fruit Orchards has ceased agricultural operations.

In 2010, the federal government accused labor contractor Global Horizons of abusing Thai guest workers in violation of criminal human trafficking laws.

Although the criminal charges were later abandoned, the federal agency pursued a civil lawsuit against Global Horizons and the two Washington farms that was filed in 2011.

Litigation against Global Horizons was dropped because the company accepted a $7.7 million default order.

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