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A federal jury ruled Wednesday afternoon that Henry’s Turkey Service of Goldwaithe, Texas, must pay 32 mentally disabled workers $240 million for years of abuse and neglect. The now-shuttered company’s violations of the American Disabilities Act range from physically abusing the men to packing them in unsanitary bunkhouses at night.
Over 40 years, hundreds of men were shipped from Texas to work in Henry’s Iowa plant for 41 cents an hour. They were housed in a century-old, cockroach-infested school building with a broken boiler, denied access to disability services, and battered with constant physical and verbal abuse by their so-called caretakers. The complaint details how injuries and requests for medical aid were ignored, restroom breaks were prohibited, while caretakers mocked the men as “retarded” “dumbass” and “stupid.”
Meanwhile, the state of Iowa and the U.S. Labor Department turned a blind eye to the labor camp’s myriad violations, as the Des Moines Register explains:
Evidence produced during the trial indicates bunkhouse supervisor Randy Neubauer had one of the bunkhouse residents handcuffed to his bed at night — an allegation Neubauer denied when testifying.
Also, an Iowa Department of Human Services social worker testified that evidence showed some of the men were punished for violating company rules by being taken to a garage next to the bunkhouse, where they were forced to walk around a pole while they were hit, kicked and screamed at by their caretakers.
Although federal officials have said Henry’s violated the state fire code, committed abuse and ran the bunkhouse as an unlicensed care facility, the state of Iowa never filed criminal charges in the case.
Henry’s decades-long practice of paying the men less than the minimum wage was well-known to the U.S. Department of Labor, which over 15 years repeatedly cited the company for wage violations but imposed no penalties.
Even Kenneth Henry, the owner of Henry’s Turkey Service, struck an employee, or one of the “boys,” as Henry called the mostly middle-aged men. Henry denied it in court, also claiming he had no knowledge of the appalling conditions in his labor camp.
Originally posted by Covertblack
Why were these individuals even there? Was this like an asylum work program??
Other programs that allow for payment of less than the full federal minimum wage apply to disabled workers
Between February 2010 and March 2011, the highest amount Lane earned was $53.66 for 81 hours in September 2010. The lowest was $26.82 for 66 hours in March 2010, or approximately 40 cents an hour...The state of Oregon currently spends $30 million a year on sheltered workshops for people with disabilities.