The EEOC has accused Henry’s Turkey Service, a company owned and managed by Kenneth Henry of Proctor, Texas, of committing numerous violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to reap financial benefits. An EEOC investigation found that Henry’s Turkey Service underpaid its mentally disabled employees by at least $1 million over the last three years.
Henry’s Turkey Service, which housed and placed mentally disabled men to work at Iowa-based West Liberty Foods, allegedly paid the men about 41 cents an hour after deducting “housing expenses” from their paychecks. Even though Henry’s Turkey Service rented a “bunkhouse” from the city of Atalissa for only $600 per month, the company deducted a total $10,000 from its workers’ paychecks each month for housing expenses.
In February 2010, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, state health inspectors, and county prosecutors, the state fire marshal shut down the deteriorating building that served as housing for Henry’s workers for over 30 years. J. Bennett, an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals administrator, described conditions in the roach-infested bunkhouse as “deplorable.”
The employees were also subjected to a hostile work environment that included “verbal and physical abuse because of their mental disabilities.” The men were “continually subjected to taunts, name-calling, humiliation and other offensive verbal conduct and mistreatment based upon their disability.”
Henry’s restricted the workers’ contact with others and subjected them to “unusual, excessively harsh and often humiliating disciplinary actions.” The company also failed to provide the men with “adequate access to medical care, all while taking advantage” of the men’s vulnerable state.
Sylvia Piper of the Iowa Protection and Advocacy, an agency that advocates for the disabled, said, “Even the term ‘slave labor’ doesn’t fully describe what those men endured for the past 34 years.”