A Texas Company Settles a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

A Texas company accused of exploiting mentally disabled men who worked at a turkey plant in Iowa has agreed to follow minimum wage, overtime and record-keepings laws in the future.

Hills Country Farms agreed to these measures Monday; an injunction approved by a federal judge settles the complaint brought by the US Department of Labor. In order to obtain such a settlement, the latter decided not to seek back-pay and damages related to non-disabled workers who were also allegedly not paid overtime and minimum wage.

In a separate lawsuit last April, a federal Judge ordered the company to pay $1.76 million in back wages and damages to 31 disabled men who worked at the same plant in Iowa. The Judge found the disabled workers received only $65 a month in wages even though many worked more than 40 hours a week. The company argued that they paid that amount because any wage above $65 would have reduced the men’s Social Security benefits.

The case of six non disabled employees seeking the same remedies is still pending and expected to go to trial soon. Hills Country Farms is also facing a separate lawsuit pending in front of the EEOC claiming the disabled men were subjected to verbal and physical abuse, substandard living conditions, poor medical care, excessive discipline, and discriminatory wages.