An Iowa jury awarded $240 million to 32 men who suffered severe disability discrimination and harassment while working at Hill County Farms, which does business as Henry’s Turkey Service.
This $240 million verdict is the largest jury award that the EEOC has ever achieved. The jury agreed that the 32 men, who are intellectually disabled, were subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment for 20 years becasue of their disabilities.
Each of the 32 former employees will receive $2 million in punitive damages and $5.5 million in compensatory damages. In September 2012, a district court judge ordered Henry’s Turkey Service to pay the employees $1.3 million for unlawful wage discrimination. Henry’s Turkey Service had been paying their disabled workers as little as 41 cents an hour.
In its original complaint, the EEOC alleged that bad bosses at Henry’s Turkey Service subjected the 32 disabled employees to a severe hostile work environment that included abusive verbal and physical harassment. The employees were often referred to as “retarded,” “dumb ass,” and “stupid.” A number of the employees claim that they were hit, kicked, forced to carry heavy weights as punishment, and at least one man claims to have been handcuffed.
EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said, “This historic verdict marks one of the EEOC’s finest moments in its ongoing efforts to combat employment discrimination, especially discrimination against vulnerable and historically underserved populations. The fact that the jury rendered the largest verdict ever obtained by the EEOC says volumes about the severity of the violation and it illustrates this agency’s resolve to vindicate the rights of all discrimination victims.”